In line with the vision of the Cross River State governor, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade’s agro-industrialisation policy, the chairman of Biase local government area of the State, Hon. Princess Ada Charles Egwu has flagged off 20 hectares of land for sesame seed cultivation by farmers in the area to boost their short term cash products.
Speaking at Adim, the site for the cultivation of the seed, Princess Egwu said the federal government and Central Bank of Nigeria through NIRSAL Microfinance Bank are the major partners of the laudable project.
“This is another milestone in the history of this administration. The acceptance of this project is an indication of our desire to improve the status of our farmers willing to key into this life-transforming agricultural programme,” she said.
Also speaking, the chairman of National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria, Rev Thomas Agida, said sesame seed farming is a source of income for five million smallholder farmers in Nigeria and the second highest earner of foreign exchange for the country outside oil.
“And it has consistently remained so in the last four quarters according to the National Bureau of Statistics and the potential for the cultivation of the seed remains very high as an estimated 5.5 mlllion hectares of the country’s agricultural land is suitable for cultivation of the seed,” Agida said.
He stated that the seed was in high demand in Israel, Turkey, China and Europe because of its high value in pharmaceutical and technological uses.
“The National Sesame Seed Association is working very hard to promote its value chain which cuts across production, processing and export and we have worked hard to increase production from 300,000 to 500,000 metric tonnes to meet export demand,” Agida added.
For his part, the NIRSAL coordinator for Cross River State, Mr Udu Progress, said loans would be facilitated with partnership with banks for farmers to move the programme to the next level.