Sesame Farming

Sesame Farming



Simsim or Sesame originates in East Africa and is the oldest of the commercial oil seeds. The oil is a clear edible oil with a pleasant taste and a very good long shelf life. Sesame has an oil content of 48-55% which is the highest of any oil crop while the protein content ranges from 44 to 48%. Sesame seeds are either consumed directly as a highly nutritious foodstuff or processed by the confectionery and bakery industries. The seed hulls, which are bitter due to their oxalic content, can be removed with the use of steam. Ragouts and soups are often prepared with crushed sesame seeds. Sesame hay, if carefully dried, can be used as fodder. A large proportion of the world’s sesame production goes towards producing edible oil.  Purely white sesame seeds are in demand on conventional and on ecological markets, because of their higher oil content than pigmented varieties.


Varieties White and brown local varieties Morada
Seed Rate 5 – 10 kgs per ha
Fertilizer Rate No significant response to fertilizers
Planting Spacing 45cm rows apart. Thinning plants to 15-20cm within rows
Husbandry Sesame is often sown as an opening crop in a rotation, as it requires a fertile soil. You can plant by direct sowing in holes, sowing after narrow strips have been prepared or drilling in rows. The optimum depth to sow is around 1.5 to 2.5 cm. Keep the field completely weed free.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Sesame websorm seed bugFungal attack bacterial blight Holes in Leaves Spots Spray with insecticides chemical use not economicalSeed treatment varieties
Expected Duration from Planting to Harvesting 3 – 4 Months
Climatic Conditions Sesame needs a constant high temperature (24-33°C), the optimum range of growth, blossoms and fruit ripeness is 26 to 30°C. Sesame only grows well in a warm climate from sea level up to 1500 m and rainfall of 300-600 mm. Optimal soils are well-drained, loose, fertile and sandy alluvial soils that have a pH value between 5.4 and 6.75.
Harvesting Sesame ripens very unevenly with the bottom seeds ripening first. Capsules shattering to shed their seeds is a problem in harvesting. If harvesting is delayed, most of the yield will be lost. The plants are cut to a height of 10-15 cm, or uprooted before the capsules are fully ripened. Sesame is generally harvested by hand, and then left to dry for the first 2-3 days. Sesame is generally harvested by hand, and then left to dry for the first 2-3 days. When the sheaves have dried out fully, they are tipped out onto sturdy cloths or canvases and threshed with sticks. They are then sieved and dried out to a moisture content of 6%.
Post Harvest and Storage Avoid contact with the ground to avoid an infestation of soil borne diseases.
Growing Regions Meru, Mandera, Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu
Expected yields Up to 450-550 kg/ha


Processing Sesame are pressed for oil. The press cake is processed as Animal feed


Place Sesame is marketed locally for making oil and also exported internationally.
Price Kshs 100 per kg


Products / By Products Sesame Oil; Sesame Hay; Press Cake for Animal feed
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Energy 573.0 / 29%; Carbohydrates 23.4 / 8%; Fat 49.7 / 76%; Protein 17.7 / 35%; Calcium: 975.0 / 98% ; Phosphorus 629.0 / 63%; Iron 14.5 / 81%; Potassium  468.0 / 13%;


Sesame has an oil content of 48-55% which is the highest of any oil crop.


Income Per Hectare: Kshs 45,000 (450kgs * 100/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 7,000 (15% of Income).

NET:    Kshs. 32,000 (77% of Income).

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 70 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Once per year for rainfed. Twice for Irrigation.