The Project Manager in charge of Sesame Value Chain Project of SNV, Issahaku Zakaria, has called for more partnerships to scale-up the Sesame Value Chain Project to enable more farmers benefit from the initiative.

This, according to him, will enhance livelihoods for the farmers during the off-season period and allow them to generate more income to sustain their families as well as boost their businesses.

So far, about 10,000 small household farmers from Saboba, Chereponi, East Mamprusi, West Mamprusi and Kasena Nankana West District in the Northern and Upper East Regions are benefitting from the project, which is due to end in December this year.

Sesame is a broad-leaf oil-seed crop, which is cultivated as a second crop in the savannah ecological zones during the dry season. It is highly nutritious and has several uses, including making cakes, porridge and pastries.

Mr. Issahaku made this call at a two-day sesame project review and planning workshop in Tamale, organised by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

The workshop brought together SNV’s local project partners, agro-input dealers, and representatives from farmer associations, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and buyers of sesame seeds to share achievements, successes and challenges as part of the project’s implementation, aimed at improving the yields of sesame farmers.

The three-year project seeks to reduce post-harvest loses associated with sesame production, as well as improve market access for the sesame producers.

Mr. Zakaria also noted that access to market still remains a major challenge. He however assured that efforts are being taken to provide a ready-market for the produce.

According to beneficiary farmers, the project has had a tremendous impact on their lives — hence the need to scale it up to cover the entire savannah zone.

The initiative has seen increased production of sesame across beneficiary districts, and has also helped to reduce post-harvest losses — leading to sustainable business development amongst beneficiary farmers.

It is therefore expected that with more support in the form of partnerships and investment, coupled with a ready market for the produce, the farmers can considerably increase their incomes.

The Project Manager added that as a result of the project, farmers are now able to harvest 350 bags of 100kgs per 100 hectares at GH?400 per bag, which is comparable to growing cocoa in the country — and there are presently 10,000 hectares under cultivation.

To cushion farmers, Dr. Raphael Adu-Gyamfi — a lecturer at the University of Development Studies, Tamale campus — advocated a fixed price system for sesame farmers, which according to him could help them to not only increase production but also produce quality seeds at the beginning of the season to avoid being cheated.

Similarly, John Nanten, Manager of MUYO Farms — a nucleus farm in the Saboba district, and a beneficiary of the project — is confident that a ready market for the produce would encourage farmers to increase productivity.

Credit: B&FT/Ghana