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Sesame is a flowering plant, also known as Benne. It is widely grown in tropical regions all over the world. The Somalia sesame seeds plant is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of protein and fibre.
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They contain zero cholesterol and aid in blood cell formation. Despite their tiny size, Somalia Sesame seeds are a valuable cash crop. They are native in Africa, thou they are also found in Asia and India. Sesame is one of the oldest oilseed crops.
They are drought tolerant and thrive well, even in arid areas. Somalia sesame seeds have one of the highest oil content compared to any other oilseed. The by-product that remains after oil extraction is called sesame oil meal. It is rich in protein and used to feed poultry.
Sesame was first cultivated in India 5500 years ago. Remains of sesame seeds were recovered from archaeological excavations dating to 3500 BC. It was then introduced to Somalia by Indians in the 1800s.
The historical discovery of sesame remnants was favoured by its ability to grow in arid areas where other crops could not thrive. In Somalia, sesame requires little rains followed by a longer dry season. It is an incredible drought-resilient crop.
There are four types of sesame grown in Somalia, namely:
Brown sesame seeds: These are known for their high content in oil over 50%.They are used for the extraction of oil that is extensively used in India.
White sesame seeds: These types of sesame seeds are exported from India. They are mostly used for baking and have a rich nutty flavour.
Black sesame seeds: These sesame seeds are used in salads or to marinate meat and vegetables. They are also used for medicinal purposes to cure a series of ailments.
Red sesame seeds: These have a distinctively sweet smell and are used in dishes to enhance taste due to sweet aroma.
Sesame grows well in loamy or sandy soil that is well-drained and not waterlogged, Somalia soils being great for that. The seeds are planted 3cm deep in the soil at a distance of 35cm between the rows.
From the time of growing sesame seeds take three months to grow. The seeds are ready for harvesting from 100 days, whether leaves begin to fall, and the fruit gets the colour specific to the variety e.g., Brown.
Harvesting of sesame is done by a sickle then arranged into bundles where it continues t dry. This does not affect the quality of the seeds. After harvest, the seeds are laid in a thin layer and shaken from time to time to get rid of the humidity. They are further threshed to avoid any contamination.
Moist sesame seeds are prone to fungal infection, hence the need to dry them thoroughly before storage. Harvested seam seeds are packed into moisture-proof woven film bags ready for threshing for oil production.
The oil is then packed into containers ready for export. For export sesame seeds are packed into shipping containers of capacity between 16 to 19 tonnes. Somalia is the 12th largest producer of sesame in the world.
The total number of sesame farmers in the country is estimated at 220,000. Annual revenue brought by sesame in Somalia is estimated at USD 300M totalling to 5.25 per cent of the country’s total GDP.
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