KROTAJ, a joint venture company formed between an Israeli company named Genuine and Ethiopian Sesame Export, has opened a new sesame processing factory in Ethiopia.
The firm seeks to generate $10 million annually by processing 3,700 metric tonnes of sesame known as Tahina.
Ethiopia is one of the greatest sesame producers in the world. Sesame is the country’s most important oilseed in both local and export markets and has exported the produce in whole, raw form.
However, with the new processing plant, the East African nation would get more value from its valued-added commodity export.
Export of raw seeds without value addition is one of the reasons for the declining in export revenue in many economies.
Other challenges that affect the income include contraband trade and fluctuation of global prices.
The processing plant will improve the level of competition of agricultural export commodities in Ethiopia.
Mr Yohanes Sintayehu State Minister of Industry said the government would continue to support such infrastructure improvement to better the agricultural sector.
Agriculture is an engine of the Ethiopian economy, employing 85 per cent of the total population, contributing 39 per cent of GDP, and generating 90 per cent of its foreign currency.
However, the country’s agricultural exports are primarily unprocessed commodities, including the nation’s main export earner coffee, oilseeds, sugar, pulses, live plants, and cut flowers.
Among the oil crops of Ethiopia, sesame seed commands a leading position because it is highly adapted to the arid and semi-arid low land environment and yields well.
As a result, the government and stakeholders are pulling efforts to see the success of the commodity.
According to World Crunch, Israel is the second largest buyer of Ethiopian sesame after China.
In the past three years (from 2017), the Chinese have purchased about 60 per cent of Ethiopian-grown sesame, mainly for extracting its oil. Israeli producers bought 17 per cent of the crop, followed by Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which purchased 4 per cent each.
Worldwide demand for sesame has surged 20 per cent in each of the last three years, much of it going into the production of oil, sesame-topped bread and cakes, and, increasingly, tahini—a creamy paste made from the pure ground seeds.