The sesame cash crop has been identified to have the potential of improving the livelihoods of farmers in the three Northern Regions of Ghana.
Apart from the crop being able to withstand climate change, it thrives on very marginal soils and also has the highest market value than all the crops grown in the three Northern Regions.
The SNV, a Netherlands Based Organization through the Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability (ORGII), an NGO, has therefore built the capacity of 1,800 farmers in selected communities at Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District of the Upper to enable them to go into Sesame farming.
The sesame seed has several culinary uses which may be processed into oil, powder or paste for cooking as well as toast or cakes for snack. The antioxidant in sesame prevents aging and is vital for the production of liver cells.
The Project Coordinator of ORGIIS, Mr Julius Awaregya, who disclosed these during a field day trip to one of the demonstration farms at Paga, said the soil in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions was degraded and low in fertility, and there was the need to support farmers to diversify into Sesame farming as a coping mechanism.
He said last year for instance, a bag of Sesame sold for four hundred Ghana cedis which could buy about four bags of maize; adding that unlike other crops sesame did not require fertilizer and also takes three to five months to mature.
Mr Awaregya, who described the Crop as Cocoa for the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, stated that the project built the capacity of the selected farmers on good agriculture practices and provided them with certified seeds from a research institution in Ouagadougou.
He said the project had formed Sesame farming Associations and built the capacity of the members in market price and negations and linked them to OLAM, which had entered into agreement to purchase the farmers produce which would be ready by December.
“This will help eliminate middlemen who always exploit the farmers. The buying is going to be done using standard scale of measurement which will benefit the farmers”, he indicated.
Speaking on the value of Sesame, the Project Coordinator noted that it was in high demand on the international market, particularly in the Arab countries and China, saying, apart from its high nutritional value, the crop also has a lot of medicinal values including the prevention of hypertension, high blood pressure, purification of the blood and has no cholesterol.
A senior Lecturer at the University for Development Studies, and Consultant for the project, Mr Abubakari Abdul-Halim, said what was needed most was to empower more small holder farmers especially women with Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to produce and supply the cash crop to the international market.
He said the goal of the demonstration farms was to establish the effectiveness of packages of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in bridging the yield gap and improving post-harvest quality of sesame seeds.
Farmers at the demonstration sites to learn Good Agricultural practices