The emerging success of Burkinabè sesame production

The emerging success of Burkinabè sesame production

The sesame sector is developing rapidly in Burkina Faso thanks to strong demand from the international market. But family farmers still lack the professionalism to make the most of it. Rikolto supports the UDPS-N (Departmental Union of Sesame Producers of Niangoloko) to find solutions to problems in the sesame value chain.


One of the challenges the sesame farmers face is not enough access to suitable equipment for better production/productivity

Sesame cultivation is of increasing importance today for Burkina Faso’s economy in terms of the jobs it creates, the income it generates, and the efficiency of the distribution of wealth between the actors. The sesame sector is thus a secure source of income for actors, farmers, and processors.

Sesame is an undemanding plant, relatively easy to grow, with low production costs. Therefore it is easily accessible to women and young people.

In the supply chain of the sesame sector, production is the biggest chain. In 2017, the number of sesame producers was estimated at 967,552 farmers by the MAAH (Ministry of Agriculture and Hydraulic Development), representing 36% of all plot managers in Burkina Faso.

Sesame is Burkina’s second agricultural export product after cotton. Over the period 2010-2016, sesame exports represented on average 47.41% of agricultural product exports. The 2016-2018 period was marked by an average production of 183,786 tonnes in Burkina (MAAH, 2018).

However, many problems still undermine the development of the sector:

  • the difficulty of access to funding for actors,

  • the poor organisation of the collection market,

  • lack of control over commercialisation channels,

  • non-compliance with contractual commitments by actors,

  • the low level of sesame processing: most production is sold as raw sesame grain,

  • the low involvement of scientific research in the various projects,

  • non-compliance with technical guidelines from production to post-harvest operations,

  • finally, the sesame produced in Burkina is often considered of lower quality because of its low oil content, the presence of impurities (sand, stones), pesticide residues, varietal mixtures, and sometimes the presence of salmonella.

Since 2017, Rikolto has supported the UDPS-N in the Niangoloko area in the implementation of a pilot sesame project. This organisation supports its members to improve the quality and quantity of sesame and to establish long-lasting business relationships with exporters. The project aims to support the UDPS-N to:

  • become a reliable supplier of quality sesame in the sesame market,

  • support the sesame interprofessional body in its advocacy actions for the creation of an environment favourable to the development of sesame value chains.


The challenges for the UDPS-N are:

  • The professionalisation of its members.

  • Improving the quality of sesame produced by members so that it meets market requirements: access to quality inputs (seeds and fertilisers), application of good sustainable production techniques, good post-harvest practices to reduce impurities, and making stocks more homogeneous.

  • Access for its members to suitable equipment for better production/productivity.

  • Members' access to financing: the low financial capacity of UPDS-N members limits their ability to invest in adequate inputs, equipment, and small production and post-harvest materials.

  • Access to information on the (inter)national market to be better organised so they meet the requirements of these markets.

  • The development of entrepreneurship among members of the UDPS-N to seize the opportunities offered by the market.

  • A better positioning of women and greater inclusion of young people in the sesame value chains, to ensure timely succession.

Rikolto's strategy

Part of Rikolto's strategy is promoting farmers to apply technical production and post-harvest routes, promoting agro-ecological practices.

Rikolto wants to achieve change through three (3) interventions, namely:

  1. Strengthening the production capacities of farmers to become reliable suppliers of quality sesame grain;
  • facilitating producers' access to inputs (fertilisers and certified improved seeds) in collaboration with the company NAFASO (Graceful Agriculture in Burkina Faso) and the INERA (National Institute for the Environment and Agricultural Research), and the certification of the SNS (National Seed Service),

  • promoting farmers to apply technical production and post-harvest routes, promoting agro-ecological practices,

  • support for the formation and structuring of farmers’ organisations,

  • support for quality standardisation controlled by the ABNORM (Burkinabè Agency for Standardisation, Metrology and Quality).

  • the assessment of the entrepreneurial capacities of the union and its support to develop and implement a tailor-made capacity building plan. The SCOPE methodology will be used for this.

  1. Developing an inclusive business model between Professional Organisations and (private) sesame exporters: This action is based on the facilitation of contracts between farmers’ organisations and commercial companies (Golden Seed, EBT Trading, Groupe VELEGDA, etc.). Rikolto will use the Link methodology to develop relations between farmers’ organisations and sesame-exporting companies. The SenseMaker tool will then be used to assess the results achieved in the implementation of the business model.

  2. Strengthening the governance of the sesame sector; facilitation of multi-stakeholder processes; support for advocacy for the establishment of a self-financing system for the sector (levy), support for monitoring the application of the decree on inter-branch organisations, putting the sector in touch with banking institutions to facilitate access to financing, and support for the sesame market information system.

Rikolto will also advocate in multi-actor dialogues, for the financing and distributing of the best business models to scale them up. This dialogue with the Ministry of commerce has already resulted in an export tax of 10 FCFA/kg (€0.015) to finance the sector.

Target group

We are in a direct partnership with 1,500 farmers with UDPS-N, consisting of 1,075 men and 425 women.

Of these 1,500 farmers, there are 375 young people.

Indirectly, there are 9,000 beneficiaries, including 6,480 men and 2,520 women. 1,125 of these are young people.

The intervention area

Niangoloko, in the Cascades region.

Programme partners

The partners of the programme are the UDPS-N (Departmental Union of Sesame Producers of Niangoloko) and, through it, the INTERSEB (Sesame Interprofessional of Burkina).

The other partners are:

  • CorisBank

  • Private companies: Golden Seed, EBT Trading, and VELEGDA Group

  • Input suppliers: NAFASO and AGRODIA

  • Research: INERA

  • Family farms offer agricultural products that respect the environment and meet market requirements (quality, quantity, price, and accessibility)

  • Private companies and other buyers source from farmers’ organisations based on sustainable and inclusive business models

  • National and regional regulations promote better production/commercialisation of family farmers’ products on national and international markets.

  • Good practices of inclusive business relations (producers, or young people, or women) and/or multi-actor dialogues are funded and spread.

The expected results

  • Family farms apply efficient production techniques that respect the environment, which allows them to offer sesame grain that meets market requirements.

  • Private companies source their supplies from farmers’ organisations based on sustainable and inclusive business models (contracts and practice of group selling): when necessary, they provide the pre-financing of the harvest to facilitate farmers’ organisations’ access to the latest technologies.

  • Good business model practices, especially those inclusive of young people and women, are becoming common practice in Burkina Faso.

UDPS-N (Departmental Union of Sesame Producers on Niangoloko)

Contact Person: DIABATE SOULEYMANE Phone: +22 670 15 23 47 Mail: souleymanediabate48 [at]

INTERSEB (Sesame Interprofession of Burkina Faso)

Contact Person: POUYA THIERY Phone: +22 670 14 13 08 Mail: pouyath [at]

INTERSEB (Sesame Interprofession of Burkina Faso)



Michel Tougma, Programme Officer

Email: michel.tougma [at]

Phone :

  • Office: +226 25 37 52 98
  • Cel: +226 70 74 57 18