BY ONOME AMUGE
Nigerian sesame seed, despite being rated as one of the highest non-oil foreign exchange earner for the country, with an annual production rate of 450-500 metric tonnes, is yet to be enlisted on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers Programme (APB), hindering Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global market of the commodity currently valued at an estimated $700 million.
Sheriff Balogun, president, National Sesame Seeds Association of Nigeria (NSSAN), expressing regret at the non-inclusion of the crop in one of the country’s largest agricultural schemes, explained that the association had tried twice to see how the crop could be a part of the CBN-facilitated ABP but to no avail.
‘‘We have tried twice to see how we can have the crop on the Anchor Borrowers Programme, but we are still not included; we are trying hard to see how we can be listed in this season as we have begun meeting with the CBN to see the possibility in order to harness more of its economic potentials,’’ he stated.
Balogun said apart from the health benefit of sesame seeds, the economic potentials in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job creation generated annually from the cash crop has made it presently ahead of cocoa and other soft commodities exported by Nigeria to the international market.
The NSSAN president disclosed that there are over 26 sesame seeds-growing states in the country including, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kebbi, Kogi, Nassarrawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Abuja, with Jigawa having the highest area of production, followed by Benue state.
He noted that the continuous delay in conscripting the farmers into the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN, has left the farmers without significant support, thereby limiting their productivity.