Nigerian agriculture is characterized by considerable regional and crop diversity. Analysis of this sector, particularly the food sub-sector, is fraught with serious data problems. However, the available statistics provide a broad overview of development in agriculture upon which we can make some broad generalizations about its role in economic development and structural change in Nigeria.
In the 1960s, the agricultural sector was the most important in terms of contributions to domestic production, employment and foreign exchange earnings. The situation remained almost the same three decades later with the exception that it is no longer the principal foreign exchange earner, a role now being played by oil.
The sector remained stagnant during the oil boom decade of the 1970s, and this accounted largely for the declining share of its contributions. The trend in the share of agriculture in the GDP shows a substantial variation and long-term decline from 60% in the early 1960s through 48.8% in the 1970s and 22.2% in the 1980s. Unstable and often inappropriate economic policies (of pricing, trade and exchange rate), the relative neglect of the sector and the negative impact of oil boom were also important factors responsible for the decline in its contributions.
On its diversity, Nigerian agriculture features tree and food crops, forestry, livestock and fisheries. In 1993 at 1984 constant factor cost, crops (the major source of food) accounted for about 30% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), livestock about 5%, forestry and wildlife about 1.3% and fisheries accounted 1.2%.
Sesame seeds (or sesamum or benniseed) are the seeds of the tropical annual Sesamum indicum. The species has a long history of cultivation, mostly for its yield of oil.
Based on their colour difference, sesame seed in Nigeria can be classified into two (2) types namely the white/raw and black/mixed.
The white varieties are usually regarded as the food grade and used in the bakery industry while the black 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.
Sesame seeds are one of the highly sought-after cash crops in Nigeria. It is second to cocoa in terms of export value. In fact, 90% of the sesame seed produced in the country is exported abroad.
Sesame oil which is extracted from the seeds is useful in the cosmetic industries for producing body lotions and creams. This oil is also used in the production of canned sardine, corned beef, margarine and soaps. It is also in high demand in bakeries, confectioneries, paint and pharmaceutical industries. Additionally, the by-products of sesame seeds can be used to make animal feeds.
Globally, over 4.8 million tonnes of sesame seeds are produced annually. Nigeria has the capacity to meet this production rate yet the country produces just a little over 300 000 tonnes annually. This volume makes Nigeria the second largest producer of sesame seeds in Africa and the seventh in the world.
Currently, there are 26 sesame-growing states in Nigeria; some of these include Ebonyi, Delta, Jigawa, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Benue and Taraba. The market for sesame seeds is quite vast with Japan and China as the major importers of these seeds. Countries like Turkey, India, Poland and Netherlands have also traded with Nigeria in the past.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of establishing a sesame seed plantation in Nigeria.
The size and locations of the farm is four thousand (4,000) hectares of land located in Nasarawa State. Three thousand, nine hundred nineteen (3,919) hectares would be used for the farm while the remaining eighty-one (81) hectares would be used for the construction of the office, warehouse and other civil works.
At spacing of 60 cm by 10 cm by row, the farm would require four (4) kg per hectare and using improved seedling (NCRIBEN O1m (530-6-10) with a potential yield of 1000 kg/ha and oil content of 45%), the crop would mature in four (4) months with two production cycle per annum.
The farm would also have a five (5) tons per hour capacity seed cleaning plant. Upon processing of the unclean sesame seed two percent (2%) of the product would be lost as admixture (dirt’s, stones and defective seeds).