President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera says his government will promote sesame farming as the country yearns for diversification in the agriculture sector.
Sesame seeds are used in various ways such as in salad dressings or marinades for added texture and a nutty flavour.
Currently, there are few farmers that grow this crop in Malawi. Speaking after inspecting a sesame field in Karonga on Thursday, President Chakwera said he was excited that smallholder farmers in Karonga have demonstrated the desire to diversify their agriculture.
He said diversification is key to growing Malawi’s agro-based economy while, at the same time, tackling food and nutrition insecurity at household level.
“It is interesting that Karonga is the first district I have toured where I was not taken to a maize field for inspection. This is indicative of the potential other crops have to form a major component of our farming efforts as a country,” he said.
“It is also my first time during this tour that I interacted with a sesame farmer. He enlightened us on how this rare crop can add value to our economy while transforming livelihoods at household level,” said the President after visiting Vinthukutu and Lupembe extension planning areas in the district,” added Chakwera.
The President said his tour in Karonga has convinced his government to encourage sesame farming on a large scale.
“I learn the crop is also used for a lot of health remedies, confectionery manufacturing, culinary supplements and soap manufacturing,” he said.
If explored and supported adequately, experts say increased sesame production alongside other traditional legumes such as soy beans and groundnuts can enable the country manufacturer more cooking oil that continues to be in high demand both within the borders and abroad.
However, the President lamented lack of structured markets for agricultural produce, saying this puts off most hardworking farmers in the country.
“Hardworking farmers must not suffer with unfair pricing or lack of markets. I have, therefore, advised the Minister of Agriculture to ensure they guard the farm-gate prices to help farmers earn decent income from their undertaking,” he said.
Consumer Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director, Jonh Kapito, has always advocated for the establishment of more cooking oil manufacturing plants to push down prices of the commodity.