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Sesame Seed Product Profile and Return on Investment (ROI)

how to export sesame seed

Description: 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. The original area of domestication of sesame is obscure but it seems likely to have first been brought into cultivation in Asia or India. The plant is usually 60 to 120cm tall and the fruit is a dehiscent capsule held close to the stem. When ripe, the capsule shatters to release a number of small seeds. The seeds are protected by a fibrous ‘hull’ or skin, which may be whitish to brown or black depending on the variety. 1000 seeds weigh some 4-8g. The seeds have a high oil content of 44-60%.


Harvest: Harvesting begins in late December and continues through July. Each producing area stated in the next section below (Locations) has only one season.


Locations: The major producing areas in order of priority are Nasarawa, Jigawa and Benue States. Other important areas of production are found in Yobe, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Gombe and Plateau States. The major marketing centers (towns and states) of sesame seeds in Nigeria are in the table below.


Town  State 
Doma Nasarawa
Malam-Madori Jigawa
Potiskum Yobe
Oturkpo Benue
Dawanau Kano

Types/Varieties: There are 2 types of sesame produced in Nigeria

  1. White/raw = Food-grade used in bakery industry. 98-100% whitest grade seeds.
  2. Brown/mixed = primarily oil-grade.

The White (Food Grade) seed is grown around the towns of Keffi, Lafia/Makurdi, Doma, and in Nassarawa, Taraba, and Benue States. It is easier to sort and the Fumani/Denin people consume sesame locally. The Brown/mixed grows in the North, in Kano State and in Jigawa State near Hadejia, and somewhat in the southern part of Katsina State.



Features % percentage
Oil content 45-60% min
Impurities 0-2%max
Free fatty acid (FFA) 1-2%max
Moisture content 6-9% max


Uses: Most sesame is processed directly into oil by the grower or within the producing region, but can also be sold in various stages of processing, for various uses, such as meal, paste, confections, and bakery products.


Input  Products  Description and Uses 
Seeds  Confectionery Fried seeds may be bound together with sugar syrup to give sweetmeats.
Seeds  Biscuits The whole seeds can be baked into biscuits.
(Hulled) seeds  Bakery Popular in northern Europe either incorporated into breads or as decorative toppings. May be used hulled or whole.
Seeds, sometimes roasted  Oil Particularly used in oriental cuisine. The flavor is quite strong and rarely compatible with traditional Western style cooking but also used as a salad oil.
Oil  Medicinal treatment Ulcers and burns
Oil  Margarine Once an important use, now other cheaper vegetable oils are available
Oil  Aerosol Reported use as a synergist for pyrethrum sprays
Low grade oil Various Soaps paints, lubricants, and illuminants. Local uses, of no importance in international trade
Hulled seeds  Tahini A paste of sesame seeds which is used as an ingredient in eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods
Tahini  Dips &spreads Various ingredients, such as chickpeas or eggplants, are added to Tahini to make dips and spreads such as hummus
Tahini  Halva A sweet made from Tahini and sugar with other added flavorings
Cake  Animal feed Protein rich useful supplement
Cake from hulled seeds  Ingredient Used in some Indian cooking. Also as a snack in, for example, the Nigerian Kulikuli


Export market: The major importer of sesame seeds in the world is Japan while the major consuming markets in the EU are Greece, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. In the past, the bulk of sesame was imported from China. Increasingly, other sources such as India, Sudan and, most recently, Pakistan, are taking the market share. The United States is the fifth largest import market with a steady demand for over 50,000 tonnes per year.


Export Price: The export Free on Board price of sesame seed varies from USD 1500 -2000/MT depending on the type and form of the sesame seed and the negotiation made with the buyers.


Local price: local price per metric tonne MT of sesame seed varies from NGN450,000.00 to about NGN550,000.00 in Kano.

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