Growing global sushi appetite boosts Nigeria’s sesame seed output

The growing global demand for sesame topped sushi and confectionery is attracting local Nigerian farmers into sesame seeds production thereby boosting output for the country.

The current output which ranges between 400,000 metric tons and 500,000 tons per season, is expected to rise to about 700,000 tons this year’s harvests season, president of the National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria, Sheriff Balogun, said on Tuesday during a Consultative Forum on the Development of Sesame Value Chain in Nigeria.

A report by Sushi industry statistics shows there are about 48,946 sushi restaurants in Japan and USA alone. With this demand of sushi, bread toppings and hummus, the production of the highly nutritional seeds is expected to grow by 40% in Nigeria this 2018.

Nigeria’s sesame seed which is mainly grown in the Northern part of the country due to the drought-resistant nature of the plant, is currently in hot demand all over the world. Annual production of sesame seed stands at 580,000 tonnes and 80% of the agricultural produce are exported.

Presently, Nigeria controls about 4% of the world market export products worth $123 million in the global trade of sesame seed.

The increased output of Nigeria’s top exported agricultural product, has driven more farmers to the sesame line of business, as majority see it as a means of earning in dollars, although the rising global demand is estimated to outstrip output, currently estimated at more than 6 million tons per year, by 10% in 2018.

Between October and November 2016, sesame seed worth N6.46 billion was exported, representing 39.4% of agricultural exports as shown in the recent merchandise trade intensity index analysis released by Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Nigeria which seeks to reduce its over dependence on petroleum by diversifying the economy, is working towards a 5-year development plan to increase production to about 2 million tons per year by 2022.

The development plan includes a 5billion naira ($14 million) funding support to sesame seed farmers’, to help them increase their farm lands and obtain improved seeds.

Sesame seed contains 50.5% oil and 25% protein and is in high demand by pharmaceuticals, industries for making soap, shampoo, lubricant, paints, cosmetics and oil.

Nigeria is currently is the worlds third largest producer of sesame seeds, a 4-steep increase from its 2016 7th position.