Sesame Seeds are an excellent source of high quality oil. The oil is very stable and free from undesirable elements. The oil has a natural anti-oxidant which prevents aging and vital for production of liver cells. It is also rich in protein. Its protein has disable amino acid profile and good nutrition similar to soy bean.
It is these sterling attributes that stimulates interest in the production and sales of Sesame Seeds.
Apart from being used in oil production, Sesame Seeds are used in the production of biscuits, bakery, medicinal treatment, margarine, aerosol, tahini, dips and spreads and animal feed. The Sesame Seeds oil market currently represents about 70% of the total market share. Nigeria presently produces about 300,000 MT of Sesame Seeds annually of which between 60% -70% are exported.
Sesame Seeds, also called as Sesamum or Benniseed, are the seeds of the tropical annual Sesamum Indicum. Based on their color difference, Sesame Seeds in Nigeria can be classified into two types namely the White/Raw and Brown/Mixed. The white varieties are usually regarded as the food grade and used in the bakery industry while the brown varieties are referred to as oil grade and used in the production of sesame oil.
The White (Food Grade) seed is grown around the towns of Keffi, Lafia/Makurdi, Doma, and in Nassarawa, Taraba, and Benue States. It is easier to sort and the Fumani/Denin people consume Sesame Seeds locally.
Some Other Important Facts
One of the first oil seeds known to humankind, Sesame Seeds are used in culinary as well as in traditional medicines for their nutritive, preventive, and curative properties. Oil seeds are sources for some phyto-nutrients such as omega-6 fatty acids, flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber with potent anti-cancer as well as health promoting properties.
Sesame plant is a tall annual herb of the Pedaliaceae family, which grows extensively in Asia, particularly in Burma, China, and India. It is also one of the chief commercial crops in Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia. Its scientific name is Sesamum indicum.
Sesame is very drought-tolerant, in part due to its extensive root system. However, it requires adequate moisture for germination and early growth. While the crop survives drought as well as presence of excess water, the yields are significantly lower in either condition. Moisture levels before planting and flowering impact yield most.
Most commercial cultivars of sesame are intolerant of water-logging. Rainfall late in the season prolongs growth and increases high harvest-shattering losses. Wind can also cause shattering at harvest. Initiation of flowering is sensitive to photoperiod and to sesame variety. The photoperiod also impacts the oil content in sesame seed; increased photoperiod increases oil content. The oil content of the seed is inversely proportional to its protein content.
Sesame varieties have adapted to many soil types. The high yielding crops thrive best on well-drained, fertile soils of medium texture and neutral PH. However, these have low tolerance for soils with high salt and water-logged conditions. Commercial sesame crops require 90 to 120 frost free days. Warm conditions above 23oC favor growth and yields. While sesame crops can grow in poor soils, the best yields come from properly fertilized farms.
Since sesame is a small flat seed, it is difficult to dry it after harvest because the small seed makes movement of air around the seed difficult. Therefore, the Sesame Seeds need to be harvested as dry as possible and stored at 6 percent moisture or less. If the seed is too moist, it can quickly heat up and become rancid.
After harvesting, the Sesame Seeds are usually cleaned and hulled. In some countries, once the seeds have been hulled, they are passed through an electronic color-sorting machine that rejects any discolored seeds to ensure perfectly colored Sesame Seeds. This is done because Sesame Seeds with consistent appearance is perceived to be of better quality by consumers and sells for higher price. Immature or off-sized seed is removed but saved for oil production.
Areas of Production
In Nigeria, Sesame Seeds is mostly produced in the Northern central and Northern states of the federation. Some of the states where they are produced includes Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba, Yobe, FCT, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kebbi and Plateau States.
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