Monday, December 23, 2013


Sesame seeds have a thin shell or husk which needs to be removed and this process is known as dehulling. The weight of hull is about 17% of total weight of sesame seed. The hull contains a great deal of oxalic acid and indigestive fibre. Oxalic acid can reduce biological utilization ratio of Ca in Food and influence taste. After sesame hulling, oxalic acid can reduce from 3% to 0.25% in sesame seeds, which improve the protein digestibility greatly. 

De-hulled sesame seed is mainly used to add texture, taste and aesthetic value to a variety of bakery products like bread, bread sticks, cookies, sesame bars etc; and also as an additive to cereal mixes and crackers. The whole seed is most important ingredient while preparing confectionery tahini (a halvah made from crushed, roasted and sweetened seeds) in the Gulf countries. The seed is rich in protein, carbohydrates, fibre, fat and some minerals content. 

Dehulled sesame has uniform white colour and is ready for use in cookery and confectionery. It is rich in protein (22%) and oil (60%). It has a large demand in domestic as well as export markets particularly for use in the confectionery industry.

International demand for sesame continues to increase every year. The worlds traded sesame seed recently surpassed one million tons per year and was valued at roughly $850 million. In the last 15 years, world trade in sesame has increased by nearly 80 percent. 

The total global harvest was about 3.84 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2010. The largest producer in 2010 was Burma (Myanmar), and the top three producers, Burma, India, and China, accounted for 50 percent of global production. 

Twenty-five percent of world sesame hectarage is planted in Africa. The crop, which is one of the oldest cash crops in Nigeria, is produced in about 21 states of the federation but it is predominantly found in Benue and Jigawa states. Sesame production increased from 15,000 mt in 1980 to 56,000 mt in 1994. Available data from FAO shows that Sesame production in Nigeria further increased from 60,000 tons in 1995 to 75,000 tons in 2005. An estimated 334,685 ha of the 3.5 m ha arable land suitable for its production is currently under sesame production in Nigeria.

In terms of export value, sesame seed ranks second to cocoa in the volume of export and foreign exchange earnings. Nigeria is currently among the top five largest producers and exporters of the commodity in the world with an estimated production of over 120,000 metric tonnes annually. The major market destinations for Nigeria's sesame seed are Japan, Korea, China, Turkey and the Middle East.

Sesame can be processed to several different stages, such as simply cleaning, or cleaning and dehulling, cleaning/dehulling/drying,cleaning/dehulling/drying/crushing for oil, etc. In Nigeria, the primary processing facilities focus almostexclusively on cleaning. There are a few commercial cleaning facilities, and they are all privately held. Two are in Kano with a cleaning capacity of about 100 tonnes a day, and one is in Lagos with a cleaning capacity also of about100 tonnes a day.
There are also dehulling/cleaning/color-sorting facilities in Lagos, but most of the sorting is done manually by women, some located at storage facilities in Lafia and Makurdi. There are no commercial crushing plants for sesame seed oil.

A commercial cleaning facility is about to be installed in Nassarawa State, with a capacity to handle about 200 tonnes a day. 

The above situation presents an opportunity for savvy investors to engage in the cleaning and dehulling of sesame seed in Nigeria.

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