20 Reasons Why Exporting Nigerian Sesame Seeds To Foreign Buyers Is Profitable

Last updated on August 5th, 2023 at 09:25 pm


One of the major non-oil exports that contributed largely to Nigeria’s GDP in the last 10 years is sesame seeds. Its cultivation is popular among Northern farmers in Jigawa, Benue, and more than 20 other growing states.

Quick Facts:

  • Local name: Beni-seeds
  • Botanical Name: Sesamum Indicum
  • 2012 output: 994,800 tonnes yearly
  • 2020 output:  500,000 tonnes per annum
  • Output projection:  1.5 million tonnes per year
  • Current revenue: $700 million annually
  • HS Code: 120740
  • Competitor: Ethiopia and Sudan
  • Top 3 largest markets destination: Japan, Turkey, and China
  • Income potential for farmers: N104,000 for every N50,000 invested


Its uses can be divided into three:

  1. Economic
  2. Nutritional
  3. Medicinal

Economic potential

Nigerian sesame seeds is currently turning in N287,000,000,000 annually ($700,000,000X N410).


Research showed that the amount could be doubled if a more enabling environment is created for the farmers, for instance, fixing the issue of insecurity in the Northern part where cultivation is huge.

Yet, there still an estimated $170 million USD of untapped markets, according to a data obtained from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).

What does this mean?

There are enough reasons why you should go into its farming. One of them is the high demand from foreign buyers who prefer Nigerian sesame seeds because of its richness.

Apart from that, it’s the major source of income for many farmers in Jigawa, Benue, and other growing states.

Nutritional value:

  • Used in making biscuits,
  • It is used in making bread
  • Oil extraction from beni-seeds is used for cooking
  • The young leaves can be used to prepare stews and eaten
  • Sesame food is rich in protein
  • Its meal is rich in methionine and tryptophan.
  • It contains amino acids that may be missing in a number of other sources of vegetable protein.
  • Shafts can be used for animal feed
  • It is used in poultry feed productions
  • Dried stems may be burnt as fuel with the ash and used for local soap making, but this is hardly used because it may affect seed production.
  • It is also used in manufacturing margarine
  • Used in making fish meal

Other local products that can be obtained from the beni-seeds include:

  • Kantun Ridi
  • Kunun Ridi
  • Oil used in making Kulikul
  • Leaves can be used in making local soup called Miyar Taushe
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There is only one season and it’s uniform among the producing states.


There are three types that are grown in Nigeria, they are:

  1. White sesame seeds
  2. Hulled sesame seeds
  3. Black sesame seeds

The white seeds could be described as food-grade. It is mostly used in the bakery sector.

The other two are suitable for oil production and it’s common in Kano, Jigawa, and some parts of Katsina.

Growing States in Nigeria

Beni-seeds cultivation began in the middle belt region of Nigeria, but today there are more than 20 states where it’s grown, they are:

  • Jigawa,
  • Benue,
  • Kogi,
  • Adamawa,
  • Bauchi,
  • Gombe,
  • Kaduna,
  • Kano,
  • Katsina,
  • Kebbi,
  • Nassarawa,
  • Niger,
  • Plateau,
  • Sokoto,
  • Taraba,
  • Abuja
  • Yobe
  • Borno,

Are the seeds grown in the South West?

At the time of this research, we don’t on record any southwestern states where sesame seeds are grown, but we hope that farmers in Ekiti can experiment with the planting since the seeds are grown in a neighbouring state, Kogi.

In fact, the President of the National Sesame Seed Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sherrif Balogun encouraged more people to go into sesame business “because it’s a very profitable business, and is not a seed that is difficult to grow,” The Premium Times quoted him as saying.

Process of Exporting Sesame Seeds from Nigeria To Other Countries

As a supplier to foreign buyers, here are some pertinent things you need to know about beni-seeds before setting out.

Stage 1:

1) You have to know more about the states that grow it most, the specific villages and towns

2) You should know the packaging, its model, and weight

3) You should the types that are in high demand by the foreign market

4) You should know the measurement and price at the local market

5) Would you be buying directly from farmers?

6) Would you set up and agent locations to help you with collations?

Stage 2:

If you are satisfied with the information you needed in stage 1, it’s time to know how you going to connect with foreign buyers. To do this, here are the things you should know:

1) Can I start exporting it without being licenced by government agencies?

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2) Would you be working with major exporters of sesame seeds in Nigeria or do you want to be the direct supplier?

3) What are the procedures to get an export certificate from the NEPC?

4) Which other agriculture agencies do I need to work with?

5) How can I find trusted buyers in other countries?

6) Do I need customs papers?

7) Which freight forwarding companies can I work with to get the products out to its destination?

8) What are the necessary forms to fill at the bank?

9) How will I be paid?

We’ll cover the aforementioned questions below while some of them have already been treated in our previous guide. So, let’s get started with states where you can get the produce.

Buying Model:

If you’re starting off as a middleman, you can tour some of the producing areas we highlighted above, buy in large quantity and sell the major exporters of the seeds in Nigeria.

They can remove the burden of finding international buyers from you. They already have waiting markets or buyers. This means if you don’t want to pass through the task of getting NEPC certificate for export, you can use them.

Some of the major exporters of sesame seeds in Nigeria are big companies with a global reputation in international trade. They include:

  • Akkay Limited
  • Dantata
  • Dangote
  • Olam Nigeria
  • Enkay Indo Nigerian Industries Ltd

Reasons Why You Should Start Sesame Seeds Business

1) It is easy to cultivate

2) Major importing countries around the world like Japan prefer Nigerian sesame seeds. In fact, Nigeria is their first point of call

3) Strong domestic demand for sesame underpinning the production

4) With its nutritional benefits, Nigerian beni-seeds have an edge over its competitors around the world.

5) Because of the simplicity in its cultivation and its economic value, more people are going into the planting of sesame seeds in Nigeria, get the seeds, clearing the land, and plant.

6) Contributes to sustainability of local agriculture

7) Cultivation technology is well understood and easy to use

8) It requires minimal inputs

9) If you cultivate on large scale, you can locally source for labour thereby providing jobs in your community

10) It has a minimal pest issue

11) You can establish a direct business connection with foreign buyers or use the existing major exporters in Nigeria.

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12) The demand for Nigerian sesame seeds continues to grow, meaning opportunities in them continue to grow.

13) There are multiple markets and uses going by the list of importing countries above.

14) There are unexploited markets such as Taiwan and Korea

15) Nigerian farmers or sellers have not fully explored the Japanese market, meaning you can supply more into that market.

16) If you want to go a step further, you can establish a hulling plant in Nigeria

17) Apart from the fact that it reduces unemployment, it also increases foreign exchange earnings

18) It gives you an opportunity to establish trading connections in the international trade

19) If you want a direct connection with foreign buyers there are trusted freight and forwarding companies you can use in Nigeria to connect your product with foreign buyers.

20) Incredibly, the sesame market is easy to access than the crude oil market according to NEPC data analysis.


The fact that you have brighter chances of making millions of dollars in revenue from sesame seeds doesn’t mean it doesn’t with challenges.

You possibly going to encounter some challenges that are peculiar to other businesses in the country. Some of them include:

1) Insecurity is a major issue, kidnap by bandits and Boko Haram fighters.


Find out more about a producing area before undertaking a journey to such location.

If the area isn’t safe, check another state. For instance, Borno State is dangerous at the moment because of the activities of Boko Haram terrorists who may strike any time.

Inadequate support for farmers. Despite the fact that the figure is there that sesame seeds is one of the major non-oil produce that contribute to Nigeria’s GDP, there is not enough support for local farmers in terms of credit facility.

As an exporter, you most likely going to face the issue of delay at the ports in Lagos. Until the government decentralised ports, this problem is going to persist and you may have to adjust to the problem.

Corrupt agency officials


Even as major applications for exports are done online, you will still encounter their uncharitable behaviour when it’s time for inspection. This is peculiar to the bad eggs among government officials.

Wrapping Up

Nigerian sesame seeds hold a lot of income potential for farmers, middlemen, and exporters.

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