12 ways to profit from the beni-seed value chain in Nigeria
Sesame seeds or beni-seeds as they are locally known are one of the most commercially important agricultural products which are critical to the agricultural economy in Nigeria. They have been making people millionaires and will always continue to do so for those who have access to the right knowledge on how best to profit from the sesame seed value chain here in Nigeria.
Sesame: is a flowering plant in the genus “Sesamum”, also called “benne”. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods or “buns”. The world harvested 4.2 million metric tonnes of sesame seeds in 2013, with India and China as the largest producers.
Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Sesame seed is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity. The genus has many species, and most are wild. Most wild species of the genus Sesamum are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Sesame indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India.
The historic origin of sesame was favored by its ability to grow in areas that do not support the growth of other crops. It is also a robust crop that needs little farming support—it grows in drought conditions, in high heat, with residual moisture in soil after monsoons are gone or even when rains fail or when rains are excessive. It was a crop that could be grown by subsistence farmers at the edge of deserts, where no other crops grow. Sesame has been called a survivor crop.
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%.
Sesame is grown for its seeds, and the primary use of the sesame seed is as a source of oil for cooking. The young leaves may also be eaten in stews, and the dried stems may be burnt as fuel with the ash used for local soap making, but such uses are entirely subordinate to seed production.
The seeds, hulled or dehulled, roasted or raw are now widely used in the European and North American bakery industry as a garnish on bread products. For bakery products it is more a question of consumer preference: the McDonald’s burger buns, for example, use only the whitest grades of de-hulled seed which have been treated to maintain their whiteness on baking, whereas other bread products exploit the darker color of the whole seeds to give aesthetic appeal.
De-hulling has always been a major problem for the sesame industry and a variety of solutions have been sought. The most basic approach is largely manual: the skins are rubbed off the wetted seed by hand.
Mechanical techniques now use a similar combination of wetting and rubbing. Alkali treatments are also used to strip the hull, and this tends to result in a whiter seed. The most sophisticated plants now incorporate color sorters to differentiate between the different grades of seed.
The following points below depict the ways, means and methods through which one can benefit from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria:
Provision of the land for farming: This is a method through which anyone can profit passively from the sesame seed value chain without stress. Putting your lands for lease with proper agreements in place allow the land owners to have uses for their lands without having to consider the other stressful factors which constitute the value chain.
Provision of inputs for the planting season: Again anyone who wishes to partake in the value chain can actually purchase and supply the required inputs for the planting season. Provision of various inputs can help the farmers and also help the supplier too due to the fact that both stand to gain. The farmer gains in terms of time saved and the supplier in terms of profit.
Provision of labor during the farming season: As it is to be expected, labor will always be needed during the farming season. As such, the provision of labor for the farming season is always a challenge. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for profit by the willing individual who would like to provide labor for the farmers who are ever willing to accept faithful hands who can assist in various ways and capacities during the laborious farming season.
Mechanization of farming activities: In order to increase efficiency and also to provide greater economies of scale, the mechanization of such farming activities is one way that those who want to profit on a large scale can indeed do so without the fear of loss of capital. This is because farm mechanization in Nigeria for the crop is largely non-existent and anyone who takes the bold step would likely profit quickly.
Mechanization of harvesting activities: Due to the fact that there is always a dearth of mechanized harvesting tools in Nigeria, the provision of mechanized harvest tools also provides another method of profiting from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria. This will also enhance the profits for the farmers as less crops would be lost along the way.
Provision of transportation: Transportation and logistics are another important facet of the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria. Anyone who wishes to profit immensely from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria can do so especially during the harvest period.
Provision of storage facilities: Post-harvest, the provision of appropriate storage facilities for the harvest sesame seeds are a very critical component of the value chain. This is due to the sensitive nature of the crop and the fact that sesame seeds if not properly stored are not usually able to withstand the effects of adverse environmental conditions. Anyone who wants to profit from the value chain can always resort to the provision of adequate storage facilities.
The local trading of the sesame seeds: Middlemen present the best opportunity for those who have the required skills in trading to be able to profit from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria. The trading of the seeds in local markets for local consumption can indeed be profitable due to Nigeria’s huge population. As such, the rising demand of these goods cannot be ignored. Trading locally for profits will always attract the right market due to the fact that sesame seeds have so many uses which haven’t been fully exploited yet.
The supplies of the seeds to industries: Corporate supplies of sesame seeds to industries are another immensely profitable way to profit from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria. this is because sesame seeds have such a wide variety of uses in so many diverse sectors that they are commercially viable almost at every stage of the product life cycle of the crop. Thus anyone who wants to profit from the sesame seed value chain can actually go through this route.
Mechanization of the processing of the oils: Processing of the sesame seeds into oils has proven to be a laborious and time consuming task which many people have been doing over the centuries of sesame seed production in Nigeria. With the creation of new technologies however, this process can now be taken over by machines. This also presents a unique opportunity for anyone who wants to profit from the sesame seed value chain to be able to do so. Though this requires a significant investment in terms of finances, it is well worth the investment due to the fact that this business is an every green business that will keep on producing profits; year in year out.
The exports of the sesame seeds: Sesame seeds exports are one of those quiet businesses that many people are into even though they may not talk about it. Sesame seeds are needed in many industries and usually local demand of such seeds in the jurisdictions of such industries is so high that local supplies are not enough. To meet the shortfall in supply, these industries usually rely on supplies from countries like Nigeria who are used to balance up the gap between the demand and the supply. This presents yet another unique opportunity for anyone who wants to profit from the sesame seed value chain to make huge profits; once he or she understands how best to go about international trade.
The sesame seed value chain is truly a unique one. The many uses of sesame seed cannot be denied and whoever wants to go into the business can truly do so due to the fact that it is one of those businesses where losses are rarely made. Do you have any other ways, means or methods which you can use to profit from the sesame seed value chain in Nigeria? Are there any of such which you have used before? Please feel free to share!