Sesame trade starts on a higher gear, unexpectedly

TANZANIA: TANZANIA is one of the most important players of sesame seeds in the world. With more than 120,000 tonnes exports per year Tanzania is the fourth leading exporter in Africa – behind Sudan, Nigeria and Mozambique – and fifth in the world – behind Sudan, India, Nigeria and Mozambique.

The figure above is quite lower than what was exported in 2020 where a total of 161,455 tonnes were sent to the international markets, this tells that in recent years Tanzania has been exporting below her potential.

Reason behind this decline largely hangs on low production as amount of sesame that is locally consumed is significantly low. But this can also be attributed to the corona virus pandemic that hit the world in 2020.

In this year China and other importing nations went crazy on sesame consumption replacing other sources of edible oils. Harvesting season – which usually ushers in trading season – has started in Songwe region, which borders with Zambia and Malawi in the southern part of the country.

As a norm, all sesame seeds in Songwe – as is the case to other regions in the country like Lindi and Mtwara – is traded under auction system.

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However, this year’s opening has caused an outcry to many traders after its price clocked to 4,544/- as the highest price and 4,050/- as the lowest price. If one decides to dive on the previous prices will be quite shocked as an inflation appears to be more visible. Taking 2022 prices as a benchmark, one can take note that the price is higher by a whopping 1,390/-, as it is up from 3,154/- in the same Songwe region.

It becomes even flabbergasting when compared to India’s sesame prices, reported in few months ago in Madhya Pradesh a kilo of sesame was trading at around 3,300/-.

While it’s highly encouraged to discover the reasons behind this price’s hiking it’s better to also remember that we are in early hours of the season and fortunately Songwe is not a leviathan of Tanzanian regions which produces sesame seeds, when Lindi and Mtwara comes into play it’s highly expected that price will eventually be lowered thanks to quantity increase in the market.

In the world over, products made by sesame seeds includes; baba ghanouj, halwa, hummus, tahini/tahina (sesame paste), sesame flour or powder, sesame seed oil and toasted sesame seeds. Many of these products are hardly produced in the country courtesy of low technology and low consumption (partly attributed to consumption pattern).

In China, sesame oil is the major end product of sesame seeds widely used as a cooking oil. While sunflower oil is dominant in Tanzania and commands the higher price than other edible oils, in China sesame oil is the King. This explains why sesame flow after production is usually taking the overseas route and little of it is consumed in the country as raw materials in some bites or confectioneries.

So, anyone with intents to conduct surgical operation to find out a root cause of the current matter, should take into consideration the pulling force of Tanzania’s sesame industry.

Regions leading in sesame production in Tanzania are; Mtwara, Lindi, Ruvuma, Katavi, Mbeya, Manyara, Morogoro, Coastal Region and Dodoma. Regions in the southern circuit produces 75 per cent of all sesame that is produced in the country.

Experts says that two kilos of sesame when processed can produce between two to three litres of sesame oil which could contribute into reducing the edible oil shortage in Tanzania if the country’s production would be optimum. While edible oil is the leading product in Tanzania, other products made from sim-sim are sesame powder (used in nutritious porridge), cakes, cosmetics and soaps.

Tanzania doesn’t have a technology that can process sesame seeds beyond cleaning, this makes de-hulling (an act of removing an outer cover of the seed) impossible to be done in the country, which again explains why most of our exports are largely raw.

This should serve as an invitation to all those who sees an opportunity in this to raise up and do the needful investment.

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