Malian farmers about to conquer the sesame market

Malian farmers about to conquer the sesame market

Sesame producers in Mali are professionalising to conquer larger shares of the sesame market nationally and internationally.


Among other things, FEBAS supports its members to improve the quality and quantity of sesame.

In Mali, as in Burkina Faso and Senegal, sesame production has become an important source of income. Production is increasing year by year: it went from 13,312.15 tonnes in 2010-2011 to 28,749 tonnes in 2014-2015, an increase of 116%. Sesame cultivation employs around 80,000 farmers with an average yield of 530 kg/ha. The global outlook shows that Asia will not increase its supply because China already imports significant quantities. West Africa is thus better placed to respond to the new demand for the quality of its sesame, without bitterness, light colour or pesticides.

To meet this growing global demand, stronger support for actors involved in the sesame value chains is needed.

The major constraints on the sector are, among others:

  • the low level of production equipment for producers, especially women, who remain in the majority in sesame cultivation;

  • the low level of structuring of the actors, limiting their ability to defend the interests of the sector;

  • the high level of impurity, which can reach 10 to 15% in some areas;

  • the low level of organisation of farmers, which does not facilitate collection. Exporters are forced to go through intermediaries whose behaviour is very often harmful to the quality of the sesame.

The needs of the sesame sector are enormous and relate to all links with a need to develop a win-win and lasting partnership between all actors involved in the sector.

Since 2017, Rikolto has supported the FUBAS (Federation of Bako Sababou Gnouman Unions) in the Ségou 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. This work will be inspired by the experience that Rikolto already has in this sector in Senegal and Burkina.


The challenges in Mali regarding the sesame value chain are:

  • Poor quality of Malian sesame: Sesame producers do not have the necessary production capacity for quality sesame to allow FUBAS to be a reliable supplier to exporters.

  • Poor access for producers to financing and related services: the material or equipment available is limited and farmers' organisations do not have the means to make investments.

  • FUBAS does not have the capacity to establish inclusive and sustainable business relationships with private partners.

  • The sesame sector is still very poorly organised in Mali: there is not yet an inter-professional organisation which oversees good governance within the sector and the ability of actors to make themselves heard and defend their interests nationally.

Strengthening the productive capacities of FUBAS’ members so that it can supply the market effectively with quality sesame.

It is necessary to strengthen FUBAS to develop inclusive and sustainable business relationships with sesame buyers to be able to negotiate resulting services for its members and ensure the commercialisation of their production in a professional manner.

The lack of a well-organised interprofessional organisation at the national level limits the influence of other actors in the sesame sector. Working in consultation with key actors to create an inter-professional organisation is necessary in order to align all stakeholders and get decision-makers to provide more support for the operationalisation of the National Development Strategy for the sesame sector in Mali.

Rikolto's Strategy

  • Strengthening the capacities of partners for collective action

    • Training of farmers in good, sustainable production and post-harvest practices so as to offer sesame of good quality and quantity.

    • Facilitation of farmers’ access to quality inputs.

    • Promotion of improved seed.

    • Support to develop inclusive and sustainable business relationships: facilitation of contracts between farmers' organisations and exporters.

    • Facilitation of access to market information for actors.

  • Fostering innovation

    • Facilitation of access to appropriate financing to acquire the equipment and inputs necessary to improve the quality of sesame and organise its grouped sale.

    • Support for the establishment and management of a system for collecting and analysing the organisation's statistical data.

  • Supporting a favourable environment

    • Facilitation of a multi-stakeholder process to create an interprofessional organisation in the sesame sector.

    • Support for the advocacy of stakeholders to operate in the National Development Strategy for this sector.

Target Group

Rikolto's partner organisation is FUBAS (The Federation of Bako Sababou Gnouman Unions). This is an umbrella organisation that unites 3 unions.

The project will benefit all its members, namely 2,978 family sesame farmers in the Ségou region.

The policy changes will impact 80,000 sesame farmers.

The Intervention Area

FUBAS is located in the Ségou region:

Expected Results

  • Family farms offer quality sesame that respects the environment and meets market requirements.

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

  • Measures that are favourable to the production and commercialisation of sesame produced in Mali are adopted by the government. In particular, the National Development Strategy for the Sesame Sector that should be operational and implemented satisfactorily.