The sesame seed market is an open door to the treasure in the agricultural sector; not only for Ali Baba but for both the government and investors.

Getting to Know the Sesame Seed:

Also known as Benniseed, Ben Gingilly, Simsim, Tahini, and Til, depending on where you come from. This seed is mostly grown in Africa and other dry tropics around the world except for Europe and the USA because of low returns per unit area. It is grown mainly for its seeds that contain approximately 50% oil and 25% protein. It has significant uses and importance to an everyday man as an important source of nutritional and medicinal qualities.

It ranks eighth in the world production of edible oil seeds, with higher oil content than other oilseed crops. The presence of some antioxidants (sesamum, sesamolin, and sesamol) makes the oil one of the most stable vegetable oils in the world. In addition to having high oil content (44–60%), it is the most sought after vegetable oil in the world and has been a common ingredient in cuisines of different cultures around the world. It could also be used in confectioneries, biscuits and in bread making, among other uses.

Sesame seed is produced in about 24 countries in Africa (Sudan ­-the highest producer-, Guinea, Morocco, Togo, Gambia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Benin, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Chad, Egypt, Central Africa Republic, Somalia, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda, and Nigeria).

Sesame Seed in Nigeria:

Nigeria is the second-largest producer in Africa after Sudan. The focus in this country is growing the seed and exporting, as there are few processing factories in the country. There are two variants of the seed in the country: the white and black sesame seed.

The potential for sesame cultivation in Nigeria is very high as an estimated 3.5 million hectares of the country’s agricultural land are suitable for the production of the sesame seed.

You can find this seed growing majorly in the northern parts of the country. The States include Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Abuja. Jigawa has the highest area of production and total production in the country followed by the Benue state. Nigeria produces on an average, 300,000 metric tons with each ton going for about #300,000 in the local market.

The Major Investment Opportunities In Nigeria

The major opportunities are found in the cultivation of the seeds and exporting this highly sought after seed to the international market (i.e. buying from local farmers and selling to buyers abroad).


 The Sesame seed should be cultivated on a fairly flat and well-drained loam or loamy soil with a pH range of 5.5–6.7 and at a soil depth of 1.5–2.5cm, depending on the ecological zone and should be carried out between March/April to Mid-July/ August.

Planting on flatbed should be with inter-row and intra-row spacing of 60cm x 10 cm at a seed rate of 4 kg/ha when drilling or 5 kg/ha when broadcasting. Constant weeding should be carried out for the first 25 days after planting as young seedlings are poor competitors with seed.

Thinning should be done three weeks after planting (WAP) to about 2 plants per stand along the row. This is for optimal maintenance and to avoid problems associated with high density.


The major market destinations for Nigeria’s sesame seed are Japan (70% of Nigeria’s export), Korea, China, Turkey, the Middle East and some parts of Europe. The season for this is between November and April. Nigerian Export Promotion Council also provides export incentives for prospective entrepreneurs wishing to take advantage of the investment opportunity in sesame seed exportation.

Processing and Storage:

 The relatively obscure investment opportunity at the moment, which isn’t far-fetched though but requires more attention and capital, is the processing and storage of the seed. Sesame can be processed to several different stages, such as simple cleaning, or cleaning and dehulling, cleaning/dehulling/drying, cleaning/dehulling/drying/crushing for oil, etc.

The seed can be sold in various stages of processing, for various uses, such as meal, paste, confections, and bakery products. The sesame market in Nigeria has few cleaning facilities and a de-hulling facility. A processing plant will help make seeds meet International standards and help with better pricing.


The major constraints confronting the growth of the industry are in cultivation and processing, as well as delays at the seaport, high cost of transportation and electricity.

Last Word:

Any investor that desires to move into this industry must carry out adequate market research. The industry is profitable but the risks to the investor must be properly accessed.

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