The Federal Government has launched a pilot scheme for the production of Sesame Seed in Jigawa, Yobe and Borno State.
The initiative is aimed at engaging unemployed youths in the production of sesame seeds for exportation.
This was recently disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, during a two-day International Sesame Seed Conference in Kano.
Nanono stated that the modalities for establishing the scheme were almost concluded while the protocol for export was being finalised between his Ministry and that of the Industry, Trade and Investment.
According to him, Nigeria is the largest producer of sesame seed in Africa and the third-largest in the world and has the capacity to clinch the top spot.
He revealed that the proceeds from the sesame seed export in the first quarter of last year accounted for N49.1 billion, making it the most exported agricultural commodity in Nigeria with countries like Japan, Turkey, China and members of the European Union being major buyers.
In a press release signed by his Technical Adviser (Media), Ahmed Aminu, the minister also pointed that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture has embarked upon a massive intervention drive through the free distribution of 5 million metric tonnes of improved white and brown high yielding varieties and 20 metric tonnes of Aflasafe to boost productivity.
This, he noted, has positively impacted 16,400 sesame farmers spread across 16,400 hectares of land to pave way for the production of 19,680 metric tonnes which is over and above the national production output.
He added that 20 sesame cleaning machines have been distributed to two Model Sesame Processing Centres in Nassarawa and Kano State, which may lead to the creation of 10,000 jobs while paving the way for processing of at least 200,000 metric tonnes of the commodity.
However, Nanono decried the volatility in the marketing of sesame seed due to unwholesome practices which must be checked and remedied.
On her part, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, noted that the production of non-oil exportable products like sesame seed were vital for the much-needed diversification of Nigeria’s economy.
Katagum reiterated the preparedness of her Ministry to synergise with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in promoting exportable agricultural products.
Commending the initiative, Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, lauded the Sesame Seed Producers Association of Nigeria, noting that at least 5 million farmers were engaged in the production of the commodity utilising about 5.5 million hectares of land.
He further appreciated the efforts of the FMARD, for its various intervention programmes in agricultural pursuits and pledged continued cooperation with all stakeholders in the sesame seed value chain to enhance the export drive capability of Nigeria.