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Necati Göksu: Sesame, the secret that adds flavour to flavours!

Sesame, Halva and Jam Manufacturers Association (SUTHER) Chairman Necati Göksu said that sesame (Sesamum indicum) is considered to be one of the oldest oilseeds in human history.

Necati Göksu

Stating that sesame is a plant grown in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Depending on the species, Göksu said, “It can be white, yellow, black, grey, brown and red. Sesame is an oil plant that contains more than half of its weight (50-60 percent) oil in its seeds. Sesame contains high levels of fat, protein and fibre. It is also rich in important minerals such as vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Sesame contains fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E. In addition, selenium mineral with antioxidant properties is also included in sesame seed. Sesame, which has a very high nutritional value, is a plant that is accepted to relieve toothache, energise, prevent aging and relax the body.”

Simit (Bagel)

Indicating that sesame is used in traditional medicine in the treatment of various diseases, Göksu explained, “It is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Sesame cultivation is an important source of income, especially in developing countries. It is important for the sustainability of small farms. Sesame seeds are used in various ways around the world. Although sesame oil is an edible oil, its consumption as vegetable oil has remained limited in our country because its use is not economical. Sesame, which is a summer oil plant, is used in the production of tahini and tahini halva and in the production of cereals rather than in the edible oil industry. Sesame, which is mostly used in the production of tahini and tahini halva, is also used in soap, medicine and cosmetics industry. In Africa, sesame leaves are also eaten.”

Pointing out that in 2014, 5.5 million tonnes of sesame was produced on approximately 10.6 million hectares in the world, Göksu noted, “Sesame cultivation areas are mostly located in Sudan (24 percent), India (8.9 percent) and Myanmar (10.2 percent). Türkiye has only 0.2 per cent of the world sesame cultivation area. India (14.8 percent), Sudan (13.2 percent) and China (11.2 percent) have significant shares in world sesame production. The world average sesame yield is 51.8 kg/ha. The yield per decare in India, Sudan and China is 40.6 kg, 28.5 kg and 122 kg, respectively (FAO, 2016).”

“When it comes to Türkiye, sesame is mostly cultivated in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Southeastern Anatolia regions of the country. Sesame grows in hot regions, the average monthly temperature should not be less than 20 degrees Celsius during the growing period in these regions. Due to its short growing period, it can be alternated with all kinds of cultivated plants. In recent years, it has been widely cultivated as a second crop after cereals in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Southeastern Anatolia regions. Antalya, Muğla, Aydın and Mersin are among the provinces with the most intensive production. Türkiye has an important share in the world sesame production, but there have been fluctuations in production amounts in recent years. Türkiye’s annual sesame production generally varies between 20 thousand and 30 thousand tonnes,” Göksu said.

“Türkiye produces sesame both for domestic consumption and for export. Sesame is an important ingredient in tahini, bagels and other traditional foods and is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. However, sesame production does not meet domestic demand and imports are made. It is estimated that the demand for sesame will increase with the continuation of population growth. Considering the demand of the increasing population with the decrease in production, the amount of sesame imports and foreign currency loss will increase. This situation will cause the foreign trade deficit to grow. By taking some incentive measures, the expansion of sesame cultivation areas can be ensured and on-site rural development will be supported. On the other hand, the foreign currency that goes abroad through imports will remain in the country and the foreign trade deficit will be reduced,” Göksu added.

Tahin

Emphasizing that with the developments in foreign trade, the first sesame imports in Türkiye were made in 1975 and continued irregularly until 1986, Göksu highlighted, “In these years, the amount of exports was more than the amount of imports. After 1986, imports have been made regularly every year and sesame foreign trade has been in deficit continuously. The country’s sesame imports showed small fluctuations between 1990 and 2000 and hovered around 27 thousand tonnes on average. However, after 2000, it soared rapidly with more severe fluctuations and reached 72 thousand tonnes on average between 2001-2006 and 100 thousand tonnes on average between 2007-2013. Türkiye’s sesame exports are negligible and like imports, fluctuate, albeit in small amounts. In the period considered, this amount increased from 1,478 tonnes to 2,435 tonnes. Turkey is a net importer in sesame foreign trade (TurkStat, 2016).”

Reminding that Türkiye is also a producer country in sesame, which is heavily dependent on imports, Göksu concluded, “In the statement made by the Aegean Grains, Pulses, Oil Seeds and Products Exporters’ Association, it was stated that Türkiye ramped up its sesame exports from 77 million dollars in 2022 to 124.5 million dollars in 2023 with an increase of 62 percent. While Poland was the leader in sesame exports from Türkiye in 2023 with an amount of 9 million 164 thousand dollars, we exported 7.7 million dollars of sesame to Iraq, the partner of the summit. While Germany demanded 3.2 million dollars of sesame from Türkiye, 2.6 million dollars of sesame was exported to Greece, 2.5 million dollars to Romania, 2.4 million dollars to Israel and 2.3 million dollars to Japan.

Türkiye, which meets approximately 95 percent of its annual sesame need from abroad, is currently the country importing the most sesame after China. This import, worth 236 million USD per year, corresponds to 11 percent of the total imports in the global market.

In Türkiye, 215 thousand tonnes of sesame was imported in 2023 as domestic production could not meet consumption. In 2023, 215 thousand tonnes of sesame seeds were imported from 38 countries, 28 percent of which were from Chad, 21 percent from Sudan, 15 percent from Brazil, 9 percent from Niger and 5 percent from Pakistan. These five countries accounted for 78 per cent of total imports.

Sesame production in Türkiye is important both in terms of agricultural diversity and economic returns. Agricultural policies and farmer support programmes are of great importance for increasing and sustaining the production of this plant.”

Halva

Source: tgdf.org.tr

About İsmail Uğural

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