Sesame is an old crop with bright prospect

Carlos Andam By Carlos Andam, 31st Dec 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Nature>Plants

Sesame is important in baking bread and biscuits and even in the preparation of native delicacies. However, local supply of the seed is wanting as only few farmers include the crop in their farming system.

Sesame needed in baking bread and biscuits

Many people are familiar with sesame (Sesamum indicum Linn.) yet it is not as popular as other older crops in the farming communities despite its many uses, advantages and potential for development. Until now, many farmers are not attracted to invest in its commercial production. It remains a minor crop in the farming systems even if by all indications it has bright potentials for its commercialization.

In the bakery industry, sesame seed as an ingredient in baking bread and biscuits or even in cooking some native delicacies spells a different attraction to consumers. Because supply is rare, bread with sesame seeds command higher prices. In fact, the country imports sesame to satisfy the demand of food processors because of the limited domestic production. The foreign market also can be tapped if its production exceeds the requirements of the local market.

Sesame’s home

The crop is probably native to Africa but has been for centuries mainly grown in China and India. It is used mainly as cooking oil in Chinese cooking. The oil is commonly called bene, gingelly, pil and tell and it is valued for its stability, flavor, color and resistance to rancidity. According to a seed technologist of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center in the Philippines, Leticia T. Espero, sesame oil is used extensively for cooking, for direct use as food in dressings of various sorts, and for lighting. It can also be used as an additive in the manufacture of margarine and olive oil.
Asian countries like Burma, Pakistan, Turkey and Thailand likewise produced sesame. In Africa, it is produced in Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda and in the Americas by Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico and Nicaragua.

What does sesame seed contains?

Analyses show that the average composition of the whole seed and the sesame meal after oil extraction in percentage are as follows:
Content Whole Seed Meal
Protein 22 43
Oil 43 9
Carbohydrate 11 23
Mineral matter 3 4
Espero averred that the protein in sesame differs from the protein in all food grains, legumes and oilseeds, including peanut and soybean. It has a lot of essential amino acids like methionine and cystine, but it is deficient in lysine.
Its protein can supplement the proteins in food grain legumes in the human diet. It can also serve as an “extender” of well balanced but scarce proteins in animal products like meat, milk, eggs, and fish. As such, it could become an important food supplement for diets that are high in cereals and other starchy foods if sesame would be developed into a commercially available commodity.

Medicinal properties

Sesame has been reported to possess herbal or medicinal attributes. Its medicinal functions is claimed to have been recorded in the sand and grass papers dug out from ancient Egyptian relics. This claimed is with regards to resisting illness and extending longevity. An internet site cited a book entitled “Healing the Heart” deals on the art of healing quoted the following statement:
“Sesame is the main treatment medicine for those lacking in vital energy and easily fatigued, it can replenish the energy of the five main organs, increase strength, promote smooth skin, nourish the brain, and make the muscles strong and firm. If sesame is consumed for a long period of time, it can make the body slim and lithe, prevent senility, improve the eyesight, enable resistance to hunger, extend lifespan, and other usefulness."
The site likewise mentioned that in ancient Greece, Hipocrates who is known as the “Father of Doctors” had said that sesame is a food that can improve mankind’s energy and vitality.
According to the site also, sesame can maintain the “softness” and “youth” of blood vessels. It contains very good vitamin E and fatty acids, which can enable good blood circulation. It likewise contains amino-fats which is needed by the neural impulses transmission substance that is closely related to memory power. Besides, sesame contains calcium that is highly effective for calming nerves, to contain anxiety and symptoms of mental distress.

More unique characteristics of sesame

There are other unique characteristics of sesame that should attract farmers to integrate sesame in their farming systems. One, sesame is a fairly drought resistant crop. It needs lower requirements for water compared to other crops. It needs a minimum of 300 millimeters of rainfall during its growing period.
It also grows in a wide range of soils, although for commercial purposes, it should be grown in well-drained, fertile, medium-textured soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7. For its elevation requirement, sesame can be grown up to 1,220 meters above sea level.
The crop has a relatively short growing period and this is varietal difference. Some varieties mature in 85 days after planting while others up to 150 days. The Bureau of Plant Industry listed the following high yielding oil-rich varieties: Sri Lanka Black, Japanese Black and Iligan Marinduque Black. On the other hand, the high yielding white seeded varieties that maybe used for oil extraction and for confectioneries and delicacies include the Japanese White, Guatemala White, Mexican White, and the white seeded native. These varieties are resistant to pests and diseases.
A hectare of land only requires 4 – 6 kg of seeds for monocropping.
Cultivation of sesame is not complicated compared to other crops. Its land preparation is similar with the other upland crops. After the field has been prepared, furrowing should be done with 50 – 60 centimeters apart for non-branching varieties and 70 – 80 centimeters for branching varieties to get better yield. Spot sowing 5 – 10 seeds mixed with sand at 10 – 15 centimeters spacing within the rows for branching varieties and 8 – 12 centimeters spacing for the non-branching ones within the rows will bring better results than line sowing.
Germination of sesame seeds would take 5 – 7 days after sowing. Thinning the seedling stands is recommended if there are more than 10 plants per 30 centimeter space. Otherwise, replanting is recommended. Thinning and replanting should be done 2 – 3 weeks after seedling emergence.
Timing of land preparation is very important in growing sesame in relation to irrigation. If land preparation is done in summertime and planting follows at the onset of the rainy season, then irrigation may not be necessary. Otherwise, irrigation is very important at planting time but afterwards the crop maybe irrigated only once or twice during the growing period. Water should be made available to the crops during the pre-flowering and pre-fruiting stages of sesame to have a better yield.
As in other upland crop farming, cultivation is necessary to control weeds. This should be done usually by off-barring when the plants are 3 – 4 weeks after sowing. Cultivate again by hilling-up when the plants are 30 centimeters tall.
To maximize yield potential of sesame, fertilization should be practiced. The general recommendation is to apply 200 kg per hectare of complete fertilizer at planting time. Organic fertilizer may also be used at planting time at the rate of 750 kg per hectare. Urea or ammonium sulphate may also be applied 2 – 3 weeks after planting.
Continuous rain during the growing period may result in disease infestation due to high humidity. When disease prevalence is observed, farmers should spray the crop with fungicides following the recommended dosage. Otherwise, it would be sufficient to plant disease-resistant varieties, practice field sanitation, and crop rotation.
The planting of insect pest resistant varieties and removing all residues after harvesting combined with early planting would certainly minimize insect pest damage in sesame crop. However, when there is insect pest infestation, the application of appropriate insecticides is recommended. Prompt treatment is most likely to be effective. But never apply insecticides just before harvesting and never use insecticides containing sulphur because these adversely affect the sesame plants.
Sesame capsules ripen unevenly and shatter for the shattering varieties. As soon as the sesame crop ceases to flower and leaves are yellowing and shedding, harvesting should begin. The crop should be cut at their bases when they are still green. The cut plants are tied in bundles and should be placed in mats and thick cloth. Drying under sunlight should follow immediately. Once these are already dried, they are threshed by beating the bundles. To clean the seeds, remove the inert materials, weeds, weed seeds, and deteriorated sesame seeds by winnowing or by using a screen machine or an indented cylinder machine.
Dry the seeds to 10 – 14% moisture content before placing them in bags and storing them. Separate seeds intended for planting and should be treated with chemicals to prevent damage of insects. Do not treat seeds intended for food and should be packed in cloth or jute bags.
A record of 1.2 tons to four tons per hectare has been reported as sesame’s yield.


Baking Ingredients, Baking Powder, Baking Powder Biscuits, Cooking Oil, Sesame, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seed Oil

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author avatar Carlos Andam
Agriculturist, researcher, professor and a freelance science feature writer.

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author avatar Edelnblase
6th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you for enriching our minds.

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author avatar Mark Angeles
22nd Apr 2015 (#)

Thanks for the author. This article may serve as another reference.

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author avatar Bridge
26th Oct 2015 (#)

Hi, where can we buy planting sesame seeds for planting? Thanks

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