Ethiopia is one of the centers of biodiversity for oilseeds variety. Sesame seed, Niger seed, Mustard seed, Pumpkin, Sunflower, Rape Seed, Castor Seed and Groundnuts are the variety of oilseeds which can be considered specialty, high-value seeds on the international market. Ethiopia is known by high altitudes with very different climates. This enables the country to grow a wide range of oilseeds, in which it has a long tradition. In terms of export, oilseeds are the second-largest export commodity from Ethiopia and sesame seed is the main oilseed export product.
Ethiopian Sesame Seeds
Sesame is an ancient oil crop that has been referred to as the “Queen of Oilseeds” by virtue of the high quality of its oil. Ethiopia is the center of origin for cultivated sesame, which has earned and maintained its place as a leading cash crop for the country. Known by farmers in the north as “white gold”, sesame cultivation has always been primarily for export, helping to link the country with its neighbors across the Red Sea and build ties with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.
Though it is grown extensively in the western and northwestern parts of the country, domestic consumption remains quite low, and nearly all of the sesame that is produced is sold internationally. The lowlands of Ethiopia adjoining Sudan are the traditional sesame growing areas, although cultivation has been moving south, where producers are demonstrating an ability to grow sesame that meets international standards.
Humera sesame, named for the variety grown in the Humera district of northern Ethiopia, has been growing in global popularity, with demand increasing for its whitish color, sweet taste, and attractive aroma. Used more for cooking than for oil production, Humera sesame accounts for nearly three-quarters of all sesame produced in Ethiopia. The second variety, Wollega sesame (also named for the region from which it originates) is highly sought for its significant oil content, and accounts for about one quarter of Ethiopian sesame production.
With average annual production of nearly 275,000 metric tons and a total production potential of more than 400,000 metric tons, Ethiopia stands fourth in sesame production and second in sesame export in the world market.
Production has been increasing with the expansion of mechanization and commercialization of the Ethiopian agriculture sector. Sesame was in fact one of the first crops to be grown commercially in Ethiopia, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Unlike other African countries, Ethiopian sesame production is more or less equally shared by smallholder and medium- and large-scale commercial farmers. The last few years have shown considerable international market demand for Ethiopian sesame, which is expected to increase. This is evident in the rise of export volume as well as in new buyers and sellers coming to the market.
Nutrient value of Ethiopian Sesame
Good Source of Fiber
- May Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- Nutritious Source of Plant Protein
- Adjust Lower Blood Pressure
- May Support Healthy Bones