THE NEW WHITE GOLD IN THE AGREGRIAN AREAS ALONG THE GHANA-BURKINA FASO BORDER
Brief History of the Sesame crop (seed)
In 2018, world production of sesame seeds was 6 million tonnes, led by Sudan, Myanmar and India. The white and other lighter –colored sesame seeds are common in Europe, the Americas, West Asia, and Indian subcontinent.
The black and darker-colored sesame seeds are mostly in China and Southeast. Japan is the world’s largest sesame importer. Sesame oil, particularly from roasted seed, is an important component of Japanese cooking and traditionally the principal use of the seed, China is the second largest importer of sesame, mostly oil grade. Other major importers are United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Turkey, and France.
Sesame seed is a high –value cash crop. Prices have ranged between$800 and $1700
Sesame seed is considered to be the oldest oilseed crop known to humanity.
The genus has many species, and most are wild. Most wild genus Sesamum are native to sub-saharan Africa,the cultivated type originated from India.
Archaeological remnants suggest sesame was first domesticated in the indian subcontinent dating 5500 years ago.
Some reports claim sesame was cultivated in Egypt during the Ptolemaic period ,while others suggest the new kingdom .Egytians called it sesemt ,and it is included in the list of medicinal drugs in the scrolls of Ebers Papyrus dated back to be over 3600 years old. Archeological reports from Turkey indicate that sesame was pressed to extract oil at least 2750 years ago in the empire of Urartu.
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 a robust crop that needs little farming support.it grows in drought conditions, in high heat, with residual moisture in soil after mansoons 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.
Where it grows-cultivation
Sesame varieties have adapted to soil types. The high yielding crops thrives best on well-drained, fertile soils of medium texture and neutral PH. However, these have low tolerance for soils with high salt and water-logged conditions. Commercial sesame crops require 90 to 120 frost free days. Warm conditions above 23 C favor growth and yields .while the crop survives drought and presence of excess water, the yields are significantly lower in either condition. Moisture levels before planting and flowering impact yield most.
Most commercial cultivators of sesame are intolerant of water- logging. Rainfall late in the season prolongs growth and increases loss to dehiscence, when the seedpod shatters, scattering the seed .Wind can cause shattering at harvest.
The sesame seed is protected by a capsule that bursts when the seeds are ripe. the time of bursting, or dehiscence ,tends to vary, so farmers cut plants by hand and place them together in an upright position to continue ripening until all capsules have opened .
Since sesame is a small, flat seed, it is difficult to dry it after harvest because the small seed makes movement of air around the seed difficult .therefore, the seed need to be harvested as dry as possible and stored at 6% moisture or less.
After harvesting, the seeds are usually cleaned and hulled because sesame seeds with consistent appearance are perceived to of better quality by consumers, and sell for better price.
Sesame seeds are a good source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. Regularly eating substantial portions of these seeds — not just an occasional sprinkling on a burger bun — may aid blood sugar control, combat arthritis pain, and lower cholesterol.
Seeds per Acre
The sesame seeds are very small in size, so you will require less seeds as compared to many other crops. Generally 2-2.2 kg seeds will be enough for one acre.
Planting seeds in rows will be very good instead of scattering the seeds throughout the land. Space the rows to about 10-12 inches apart.
Mix the seed with dry sand and spread the mixture along the furrows for ensuring even distribution (mix 1 time seed with 4 times dry sand).
Sow the seeds to about 1/2 to 2/3 inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil after sowing, and water the soil lightly.
Before sowing the seeds, treat them with Bavistin at the rate of 2 grams per kg seed. You need to do so for preventing seed brone diseases.
You can thin the seedlings to about 4-6 inches apart when they are about or up to 4 inches tall.
Fertilizing: In most cases, you don’t have to provide additional fertilizers for growing sesame plants. Your plants will grow just fine if you have prepared the soil by following the systems mentioned above.
Watering: Regular and adequate watering is very important for the proper growth of the sesame plants.
Timely and adequate irrigation also affect total production. Irrigate the soil for the first time immediately after sowing the seeds. And provide additional irrigation after 1 week of sowing the seeds, depending upon the soil type and climatic condition. Once the seeds germinate, you need to provide irrigation 3 times in 3 critical stages. The first one should be done at pre-flowering stage, the second one at flowering stage and the last one at pod setting stage. Stop watering totally, 65 to 70 days after sowing the seeds.
Controlling Weeds: Weeds consume most of the nutrients from the soil. So controlling them is very important. You should take first step for controlling weeds while preparing the soil. Then additional weeding is required 15-25 days after sowing the seeds. And finally another one at 15 to 20 days after first weeding.
Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases are generally less in the sesame plants. Caterpillar and gall fly are the common and main pests you will notice while growing sesame plants.
Please consult with an experienced farmer in your area or contact your nearest agriculture extension office for more help for controlling all these pests and diseases.
The sesame seeds become ready for harvesting within 3-5 months after planting the seeds (exact time depends on the variety).
But in most varieties, you can expect to harvest when the leaves, stems and capsules begin to turn yellow and the lower leaves of the plant start shedding.
Don’t wait until the crop becomes dead ripe (because it will cause the shedding of the seeds).
The ripe sesame plants should be cut at the ground level and should be stacked for 7 to 10 days in sun for making them ready for the threshing process
Total yield always depends on the variety you choose, and also on good farm management practice.
You can expect between 5 100kg bags and 7 100kg bags from an acreage of farmland without application of fertilizer and any other and thus making it less capital intensive and hustle free unlike the cultivation of our traditional crops such as maize, groundnuts, rice, yam, soya beans etc.
A 100kg bag is being sold at range between Ghc 500,Ghc 600,Ghc 700,Ghc 800 and Ghc 900 depending who is buying and where is being bought. But most of these new Sesame farmers in Ghana sell their produce in Burkina Faso as is the only briskly market for the commodity. Meanwhile it is only this season that maize farmers are experiencing good price for their produce even when a 100kg bag of maize is being sold at Ghc 240 despite all the energy and resources that goes into its cultivation.
The Consequences on the Ghanaian Economy
My personal observation and study indicates that, many farmers in the Sisaala area, Kassena Areas and other areas on the Ghana –Burkina border fringe have now allocated a chunk part of their farmlands to the cultivation of the white Sesame to avoid the skyrocketing prices of farm inputs such as fertilizer and even the frustration of getting supplies should one have the purchasing power.
What this means is that, there is more likelihood of Ghana experiencing acute shortage of maize after this farming season.
By: AYAMGA BAWA FATAWU