Sesame seed is a domesticated oilseed native to sub-Saharan Africa though originated in India. It dates back some 2000 years to the Chinese and Egyptians who used it for medicinal purposes. In the 900BC, sesame seeds were used by Turks for edible oil while the plant was imported into Europe during the first century. Africans are believed to have brought it to the USA in the 17th century during the slave trade.
Sesame seeds are tiny, flat ovals, pearly white or cream and are about 3mm long. The tree can grow between 2 to 9 feet with one to three whitish purple flowers on their leaf axils.
Sesame seeds are a cash crop with wide varieties in Africa. It is generally classified into the white and brown varieties. The white grain also known as “food grade” is used by bakeries for pastry garnishing and salad while the brown grain, often referred to as the “oil grade”, is used in the production of sesame oil.
Nigeria is the largest producer of sesame seeds in Africa, and the third-largest in the world, with about 580,000 tons of annual production. 90% of sesame seeds produced in
Nigeria are exported.
The white grain has a white to golden colour and is also called the food grade. It is used as a salad and in pastries and has higher market price compared to the yellow to dark brown varieties. The white variety is used in its natural form given its aesthetic value.
The brown grain is the oil grade and is used to produce sesame oil. With this variety being a mixed seed, it gets crushed into oil.
Our Nigerian sesame seed is drought resistant; hence it thrives in the northern part of the country. It requires medium- textured, well-drained loam soil with a 5.5 to 6.7 ph. Commercial sesame seed plants need 3 to 4 frost-free months.
We grow them at 23°c and above as appropriate conditions for growth and better yield. Despite the plant being drought-tolerant, it needs adequate moisture during its germination and early growth stages. Hence, planting occurs between March and August, and the sesame seeds are available between April and November.
Harvest is in August and October. The sesame seeds take 4 -5 months to mature. They are harvested when half the capsules turn yellow. Delay may lead to loss of yield due to shattering of the fragile seeds. Harvesting is done manually using sickles. The sesame seeds are then threshed, cleaned and hulled as necessary.
We store in cool, dry and dark places and pack in plastic polythene or polypropylene bags, shipping in 18 tons per TEU. Cool conditions are essential during shipping as well as a travel temperature of between 5°c-25°c and a relative humidity of 70%.