Sesame; An Oil Crop With A Whole Lot Potentials
Sesame; a relatively unknown oil crop but with high usefulness
Sesame is known by some people as benniseed and others Til. It is a warm season annual flowering plant basically cultivated for its seeds. It is a plant known to contain a considerable amount of oil and protein. It contains antioxidants such as sesamolin, sesamum and sesamol. It is basically cultivated in the Northern part of the country. Due to lack of technical know-how on the part of the farmers and negligence on the part of the government, the potential of the crop has not been fully utilized.
How sesame is Cultivated
To ensure good yield, a number of practices such as constant weeding, fertilizer application and other farm practices required for its cultivation should be adequately put in place.
The first thing that must be done is to clear the land where the crop is to be cultivated. After ploughing the land, harrow it to ensure a fairly flat surface. The crop should be cultivated on a fairly flat and well drained loamy soil at a soil depth of about 3cm and at an inter-row and intra-row spacing of 60 x 10cm at a seed rate of 5kg/ha. Due to the tiny nature of the seed, broadcasting method is usually adopted, so seed should be sowed at a seed rate of 6kg/ha (although this can vary with the varieties of sesame cultivated). The common varieties that can be seen in Nigeria are Yandev-55, NCRIBEN 01m, NCRIBEN-02m.
Constant weeding should be carried out for the first 3weeks after planting as young seedlings are poor competitors with weed. Fertilizers and pesticides such as rodenticides, herbicides, and insecticides should be applied as deem fit by the farmer.
When and how to harvest sesame
On the average, sesame reaches maturity between 80-150 days. By then, the pod or capsule would have splitted and the green colour of the crop must have changed to either yellow or red. They can be harvested either by a sickle or the use of hand.
Note: As a result of high presence of oil in the seed, it can rapidly become rancid(rotten). Once harvested, it is advisable to winnow it by separating it from its pod or capsule, then stored in a air-tight container or processed immediately.
Prospect and importance of sesame
According to a recent publication, sesame was ranked the eighth in the world production of edible oil seeds, with higher oil content than other oilseed crops such as soybean, groundnut etc. if healthy practices required to obtain a reasonable yield from its cultivation can be adopted by our local farmers, the heavy reliance on oil crops such as oil palm, groundnut, soybean would drastically reduce and also eliminate or reduces the massive importation of oil from other countries. The benefit would be that our local farmers would be financially enriched and also contribute the overall status of our economy by increasing GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
It also contains an appreciable amount of edible oil. It has medicinal values, contains essential amino acids, mineral salt such as calcium which helps in the formation of strong bones and teeth, phosphorus which is an important constituent of nucleic acid and also helps in the formation of strong bones and teeth.
I entreat all readers who are interested in farming, be it subsistence or commercial to give sesame cultivation a trial, at the end, you would discover it is worth it stress all along. Thank you