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  • Sesame, Sesamum indicum L., is an ancient oil crop supplying seeds for confectionery purposes, edible oil, paste (tahini), cake and flour.

  • It is typically a crop of small farmers in the developing countries.

  • Sesame seed contains antioxidants which inhibit the development of rancidity in the oil. In the food industry, where synthetic antioxidants are used extensively, there is an increasing demand for more natural products.

  • Sesame seeds are tiny, flat oval seeds with a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible crunch. They come in a host of different colors, depending upon the variety, including white, yellow, black and red.

  • Sesame seeds are highly valued for their high content of sesame oil, an oil that is very resistant to rancidity.


  • Sesame grows best on well drained soils of moderate fertility.

  • The optimum pH for growth ranges from 5.4 to 6.7.

  • Good drainage is crucial, as sesame is very susceptible to short periods of waterlogging.

  • Sesame is intolerant of very acidic or saline soils.

  • The response of sesame to both temperature and day length indicates that it is well adapted to wet season production in the tropics, or summer production in the warmer temperate areas.

  • The total amount of water required to grow a sesame crop ranges from 600 to 1000 mm, depending on the cultivar and the climatic conditions.


  • Sesame seeds are a very good source of copper and a good source of magnesium and calcium.

  • Sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals.

  • Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.


  • Japan was the largest importer taking 24% of the world imports. The second largest importer was the USA with 8% of world imports.

  • It is forecast that the imports of sesame seed will grow at between 6 and 8% per annum until the year 2012.

  • Sesame is being imported into the US at a price of US$0.43/lb. This relatively high price reflects a world-wide shortage. Though the market for sesame seed is strong, domestic US production awaits the development of high-yielding nonshattering varieties.

  • India is the 2nd largest producer in the world. The major producers are Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Rajasthan.

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