Business is booming.

Beniseed farmers upbeat despite Covid-19 despoliation

Farmers of sesame, popularly known as beniseed, in Taraba and other producing states are making good fortune from the sales of their produce amid mass production.
Daily Trust reports that the produce, which is now being exported, is massively cultivated in Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Nasarawa states.
Because the produce is increasingly enjoying export, its price came down drastically in the wake of COVID-19 but is now going up and farmers are smiling to the bank.
Findings reveal that buyers from Lagos, Kano, Enugu and other parts of the country flood rural markets in the producing states to buy the commodity at very good prices.
Our correspondent in Taraba State reports that major grain markets where the produce is available include Mutum Biyu, Maihula, Iware, Mutum Daya, Bantaje, Bali, Mararaban Baissa, Gazabu and Jatau.
A marketer, Mallam Yunusa Adamu, noted that previously, states like Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi and Plateau were the major producers of beniseed, but that now Taraba had overtaken them.
According to him, it was only a few years back that farmers started producing the crop in commercial quantity in few local government areas of the state.
Mallam Adamu, however, said due to high demand and good prices, more farmers, including women, were now into beniseed farming.
He explained that beniseed farming was not difficult because a farmer did not have to apply fertiliser and that it could be grown even on unfertile soil twice a year.
According to him, before the COVID-19 outbreak, a 100kg bag of beniseed was sold between N60,000 and N70,000, but that the price dropped to N25,000 during the lockdown.
He said the commodity was usually exported to Asia, Middle East and Europe, but that because of the travel ban, buyers who exported the commodity stopped coming to the state.
A large scale farmer, Alhaji Ali Maihula, said there was good market for the commodity.
Alhaji Ali revealed that in a situation where the price was not attractive, a farmer could store the commodity for years without it being destroyed by pests.
He said many farmers were now producing beniseed because it was easy to grow.
Maihula explained that, “Beniseed is an export commodity and it can be grown twice a year and does not need fertiliser or fertile land.”
He said he harvests 120 bags and reinvest the proceeds to his farming activities.
In most homes in Taraba, according to our findings, beniseed is used as an ingredient for special stew and cake and is also used for body decorations during festivals by some tribes.
Another farmer, Mr. Charles Bulus, told Daily Trust that over 90 per cent of the commodity was purchased by grain merchants and exported, adding that that was why during the lockdown the price of the commodity came down drastically.
It was gathered that women groups are not left out in beniseed production and are making good fortunes from it.
Most women take the advantage of the early maturing period of the crop and grow it in their husbands’ farms before planting other crops.
The Taraba state government, it was gathered, purchased improved beniseed seeds and distributed to youths and women groups as part of its empowerment programme.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. David Kassa, told Daily Trust that beniseed was one of the crops that could be easily produced without much capital.
Mr. Kassa said government was encouraging mass production of beniseed because of its high demand in some parts of the world, and that as an export commodity, the state stood to gain huge revenues from it.
The commissioner revealed that the seeds distributed were of high quality and yielded more compared to the traditional seeds, and that the target of the state government was to encourage more youths in the rural communities to embark on the production of beniseed and other cash crops.
The commissioner further said with available land, Taraba would be the leading beniseed and cash crops producer in the country, adding that already an export window had been secured for the commodity.

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