Sesame has small nutritious seeds, is a very important oil crop, and is valued for its high quality oils (44% to 52%). However, despite its high value and potential, sesame has received less development attention with its Production characterized by low yields and low productivity. This is as a result of the impact of frequent extreme weather events (droughts, unpredictable seasons, or too much rainfall). Use of traditional varieties and management practices, Poor pests and diseases control practices, declining soil fertility, Pre and post-harvest losses are other factors affecting the crops productivity.
In Uganda, about 250,000 smallholder farmers are engaged in sesame production with about 101,000 Mt from an area of 176,000 ha. The biggest percentage of this production, 93.7% is realized from northern Uganda.
It is therefore against such background that crop scientists led by the Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII) formed an alliance to introduce the Sesame Project dubbed -Stabilizing Sesame Yields and Production in the Lango Region- Northern Uganda, that aims at improving livelihoods of the Simsim (Sesame) farmers.
Through this research focused project, drought tolerant sesame varieties have been evaluated and released and also innovations in gall midge and webworm control have been effected. The released clean materials are taken to farmer’s fields for comparison with the farmer seed/local variety.
“When you compare, Yield, from the released varieties outstands that from the local farmers’ variety. The local variety also succumbs very much to webworm which is why our research on the Sesame crop is very important because the improved varieties are tolerant to drought and also resistant to pest and diseases” says the Sesame Project Coordinator, Mr. Francis Alacho from the Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII).
Experimental trials have been conducted and released varieties of Simsim2 and 3 (Sesim 2 and 3) distributed to farmers to give them chance to select among the released varieties which is most suitable for them. They are then to compare the performance and make a selection that they will adopt basing on the crop yield and resistance to pests and diseases.
“We have extended our research on the Simsim (Sesame) crop to the farmers so that they can own it for their benefit. When they are part of the whole process, they get to appreciate and embrace new technologies and innovations for better farming. They will also closely monitor the performance of the crop when on the field and see what it in turn gives them, when they harvest” adds Mr. Alacho
8 host farmers for the experiments that were conducted mid 2016 last year, were selected from the different parts of Otuke, Lira and Amolatar Districts, the Project operation areas.
On the different trial plots, some were treated with fungicides (spray) while the fertilizer trials were for evaluating different fertilizer rates to establish which rates/ combination of fertilizer gives better /high yields (these different fertilizers are used at different combinations).
The Sesame project is a consortium comprising of the National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), Uganda Oilseeds Producers and Processors Association (UOSPPA), FICA Seeds Ltd and Africa Innovations Institute (AfrII) as the lead implementer.