Fresh opportunity for sesame growers as China exports jump

A farmer tends his sesame crop in Kondoa District. Exports of sesame seeds to China from Tanzania rose by 19.1 percent to 103,200 tonnes between January and November 2022. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Chinese government data shows that the value of sesame seeds imported from Tanzania increased by 19.1 percent to $167 million from January to November 2022

Dar es Salaam. The growing demand of sesame seeds in China is presenting an opportunity for Tanzanians to export the produce which is abundantly available locally.

China is the largest importer of sesame seeds in the world, accounting for about 50 percent of the world’s total export volumes, according to the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania.

From January to November 2022, China imported 1,032,800 tonnes of sesame seeds, of which 90 percent were from African countries with Tanzania contributing 10 percent.

Data from China Customs shows that Tanzanian sesame exports increased by 19.1 percent to $167 million during the eleven-month period, prompting local producers to improve its quality and explore market opportunities.

According to the data, Tanzania exported 103,200 tonnes of sesame seeds to China, but can take further advantage of the growing demand and laws governing trade between China and Africa.

“China has granted tariff-free treatment to imported sesame seeds from most African countries, including Tanzania. This has greatly boosted Africa’s sesame seed exports,” said Johnny Wang, information officer of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania, in a statement.

He said Chinese people like to eat sesame seeds, which, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are believed to nourish the liver and kidneys, protect the skin and treat constipation.

“With the improved living standards of Chinese people and increased importance put on health, the demand for sesame seeds and related products is on the rise,” he said.

Tanzania is among the top producers of sesame in the world, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to the 2019/2020 Agriculture Sample Census by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), production of sesame in Tanzania was 128,842 tonnes, out of which 128,588 tonnes were produced by smallholder farmers and 254 tonnes were produced by large-scale farms.

Lindi region had the highest production of 26,900 tonnes, accounting for 20.9 percent of the total production, followed by Songwe which produced 23,544 tonnes (18.3 percent), Dodoma which produced 21,980 tonnes (17.1 percent) and finally Mara which produced 82 tonnes (0.1 percent).

The recent visit by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to China saw the two countries signing agreements which will further strengthen bilateral relations.

During an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) ahead of President Hassan’s state visit in November, Tanzanian ambassador to China, Mr Mbelwa Kairuki, said Tanzania’s exports to China are expected to increase to $1 billion (about Sh2.3 trillion) in 2025, from the current $600 million (about Sh1.4 trillion).