Ghana said to have huge potential for sesame crop
There is a huge potential in Ghana for the sesame industry due to the vast availability of land, climate, soil sustainability and market, Mr Issahaku Zakaria, Project Manager of the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) has said.
Mr Zakaria said this at a two-day workshop on the sesame group organized by SNV to officially launch the project, which was aimed at improving food security, incomes and employment of rural farmers and to create awareness of the sesame grain on Wednesday.
Representatives from the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), University for Development Studies (UDS), Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), Northern Regional Growth Programme (NRGP) and Olam, an international agro marketing company took part in the workshop.
Mr Zakaria observed that the sesame crop, which was not well known in Ghana is a cash crop produced in the dry areas of the Northern Savannah Zone, mostly in the Upper West, Upper East and the Northern Regions.
He said sesame mostly grew well in soils with low fertility unlike other crops such as maize, millet and sorghum and noted that, the crop could be used for medicinal purposes especially as a cure for bronchial infections and could also be used to prepare food, and that about 50 per cent of the sesame crop contained edible oil. “The entire seed is very high in calcium, phosphorus and iron”.
Mr Zakaria said measures were being put in place for the sesame crop to be included in the School Feeding Programme because of its high nutritional value.
He outlined some of the challenges farmers face in producing the crop indicating that farmers were not able to organize themselves for education on harvesting methods to avoid post harvest loses.
Mr Quirin Laumans, Country Sector Leader in charge of Agriculture of the SNV said SNV was interested in concentrating on agriculture in Ghana, hence the need to have a programme built on shea nuts and sheabutter, precisely in the Northern Region.
He indicated that SNV was at the moment operating in four districts and expressed the hope that by 2014 SNV would be in about 12 districts.