Sesame takes over as Diourbel's new traditional crop
Sesame farming brings prosperity to low-rainfall areas in Senegal.
In the face of climate change, traditional crop practices in Diourbel are undergoing a remarkable transformation. Farmers in the area are embracing change with sesame farming, which is bringing resilience and prosperity to the region.
The Diourbel Region in east Senegal has long been renowned for its groundnut industry. However, the recent decrease in rainfall has posed significant challenges for farmers, making it increasingly difficult to cultivate groundnuts and other traditional crops. In this context, sesame emerged as a water-efficient alternative three years ago, proving to be a game-changer for the region.
Sesame farming initially started on a very modest scale in Diourbel, covering only 10 hectares in 2021. However, over the course of just three years, the cultivated area expanded exponentially, surpassing 2,000 hectares. This rapid growth was made possible through a fruitful collaboration between farmers and SEDAB (Sahelienne d’Entreprise de Distribution et d’Agro-Business), a local seed company that provided the necessary seeds and expertise, catalyzed by PASTTA (Partnership for Seed Technology Transfer in Africa).
Another milestone for sesame farmers was the establishment of a sesame production cooperative in 2022. With the support and guidance of PASTTA, the cooperative successfully connected with COPEOL, an oil production company interested in purchasing sesame from local producers. This partnership not only provided a reliable market for the farmers but also contributed to the economic growth of the region. Additionally, the cooperative introduced a new variety called Niangballo, which exhibited excellent yields and met the requirements of processors.
It was beyond our imagination that sesame could thrive in the region of Diourbel. Previously, we believed that the production zone was limited to southern Senegal.
Ibra Ndiaye, sesame farmer
The impact of sesame farming in Diourbel has been remarkable. In 2022, over 1,000 tons of sesame were produced, showcasing the immense potential of this crop. Furthermore, approximately 400 kilograms of sesame seeds were sold, generating income for the farmers. By 2023, the sesame farming initiative had reached 2,000 farmers, empowering them to diversify their income sources and improve their livelihoods.
The success of sesame farming in Diourbel can be attributed to the concerted efforts of various stakeholders. SEDAB played a crucial role in providing the necessary seeds and technical support to farmers, while PASTTA facilitated the cooperative creation process and ensured the smooth interaction between farmers, SEDAB, and COPEOL. This collaboration exemplifies the power of partnerships in driving agricultural development.
The journey thus far has given us invaluable lessons, yet further efforts are necessary to improve yields and advance technical practices. SFSA recognizes the need to focus on seed development and mechanization to support farmers effectively. By addressing these challenges, we aim to unlock the full potential of sesame farming in Diourbel, while enhancing the resilience of farmers in the face of climate change.”
Abdoulaye Diop, PASTTA Country Coordinator, Senegal
Looking towards the future, our work in the area holds great promise. Firstly, we aim to expand the cultivated area to 5,000 hectares by 2025, thereby increasing sesame production. To facilitate this growth, it is imperative to establish a strong cooperative network that promotes knowledge sharing, resource pooling, and collaborative decision-making. Moreover, we intend to actively engage more partners and stakeholders, capitalizing on their expertise and resources to enhance productivity in this region. By implementing these measures, we are confident in our ability to cultivate a prosperous and resilient sesame industry in Diourbel for years to come.