Benue - Nigeria can earn more than 600,000 dollars per annum from sesame seed export with proper harnessing of the crop, the Minister for State for Trade and Investment, Samuel Ortom, has said.
Ortom said this on Monday in Makurdi at a national workshop on ``Exploiting the potentials of Sesame Seed Value Chain for Economic Sustainability'', organised by the ministry.
He said that commodity trade would expand the economy and earn more foreign exchange for the country than crude oil.
Represented by his Senior Special Assistant, Mr Gabriel Amase, Ortom said that the Federal Government was encouraging investment in food processing and marketing with a view to boosting the development of the agricultural sector.
To this end, Ortom said that the government was providing incentives for willing investors, stressing that the era unwholesome imports was over as the focus had shifted to the export of food commodities.
He noted that Nigeria had comparative advantage in the production of sesame seed as it is Africa's third largest producer of the crop and the sixth in the world.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, represented by Mr George Obina, noted that the crop was being produced in 21 states of the federation, including the FCT.
According to him, total production of the crop is between 250 tonnes and 300 tonnes per annum with the potential for higher yields.
He identified the challenges affecting production of the crop to include poor processing, marketing and production skills, resulting to low value addition and poor returns to farmers.
The minister, however, gave assurance that government would ensure the improvement of the value chain by providing improved seedlings and growth enhancement requirements for processing as well as marketing information.
On his part, the National President of the Sesame Seed Association, Mr Shadrack Balogun, represented by Mr Gabriel Anza, canvassed for adequate support to sesame seed farmers in the country.
He underscored the need for the establishment of sesame seed multiplication centres across the country to boost its production.
Gov Gabriel Suswam of Benue, while declaring the workshop open, said that the state government was committed to meaningful partnership with associations and groups that promote food production.
Represented by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Conrad Suswam, the governor said that the state government had provided incentives to farmers in its efforts to revitalise the sector.
He called on investors to take advantage of the prevailing peace in the state to invest in the sector.