Securing access to quality sesame seeds in Senegal

Securing access to quality sesame seeds in Senegal

The national federation of sesame producers, FENPROSE, manages a sustainable system to facilitate access to quality seeds for its members to cultivate with.
This project is part of the following focus area:


Sesame in Senegal

Growing sesame seeds was first introduced in Senegal, unsuccessfully, by public authorities in the 1970s. A second and more successful attempt was made by a farmer organisation (AAJAC COLUFIFA1) in 1985. Now sesame seed production in Senegal is booming. That enthusiasm for sesame seed cultivation is more than justified for the following reasons:

  • Cultivation of sesame seeds is possible over the entire Senegalese territory.

  • The sesame plant is an undemanding crop with a short cycle, that resists lack of water well.

  • Demand is extraordinarily strong in the world market, and sesame seed production flows quite easily into the market.

Quantity and quality

Sesame seed production is estimated at 15,000 tonnes per year. This represents a direct gross income of more than 7,600,000 euros for the farmers and nearly 229,000 euros in commissions paid to collectors, traders and farmer' organisations. The latter ended up positioning themselves as key players in the commercialisation of the gross product. Unfortunately, the price of sesame seeds for farmers has increased exponentially. It went from 75 FCFA/kg (€0.11) in 2006 to 500 FCFA/kg (€0.76) in 2017.

Despite the still attractive prices on the market, sesame seeds produced in Senegal face a problem of quality and yield. These problems are linked to the lack of quality in seeds that are usually used. Studies have shown that all eco-geographic areas of the country are affected by this lack of quality seeds.

This situation led Rikolto to support sesame farmers’ organisations in Senegal in the 2014-2016 cultivation promotion programme to develop a sesame seed production and distribution strategy.

The strategy consists of developing a pilot experiment with a farmers’ organisation that was a member of FENPROSE and UGAN (the Union of Associated Groups of Niombato). The first test phase enabled this women's organisation to produce basic sesame seeds during the 2013 off-season harvest. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, these women scaled up the basic seed quantity by producing more, certified seeds.


Commercialisation The experiment, although it produced interesting results, was limited to the department of Foundiougne alone. The quantities produced did not cover the needs of the members of the whole federation. In addition, at the end of the experiment, UGAN had not yet started commercialising the certified seeds: the products resulting from the experiment had been redistributed to members of the organisation.

Expanding to other regions As part of the 2017-2021 programme, Rikolto and FENPROSE have decided to extend the skills gathered to other production areas, particularly those in the centre and the south. Additionally, Rikolto decided to strengthen UGAN to become an approved seed operator and approved supplier to the government. This programme also provides for the diversification of sesame seed varieties to meet market needs. FENPROSE, the national umbrella organisation of sesame producers, will carry the scale-up phase. This is because UGAN has a limited radius of intervention. We will further support them to become a real agricultural enterprise producing certified sesame seeds.


  • Support FENPROSE to succeed in planning seed multiplication: carrying out an inventory of production and access to seeds by farmers, estimating seed needs, drawing up the implementation plan, facilitating information and awareness of stakeholders and partners.

  • Build the capacities of new seed farmers involved in the process: training on technical routes for seed production and training on the current seed legislation.

  • Facilitate access to inputs and support for monitoring/supervision of the multiplication phase: installation of inputs (seeds, fertilisers, phyto products and packaging costs), supervision of cultivation, supervision and monitoring by the responsible people of each organisation, followed by approval and certification by the DRDR (Regional Directorate of Rural Development)/DISEM (Seeds Division).

  • Support for the commercialisation of seeds: support for finding customers for sesame seeds by FENPROSE members, carrying out a study of the sesame seeds market, integrating the seeds component into the SIMA platform (Information System on Agricultural Markets), support in the search for commercialisation funds from financial partners.

  • Support to obtain recognition as a government supplier, to develop commercialisation mechanisms with private seed companies, and to continue having the seed production of FENPROSE commercialised.

  • Support for creating a management section for quality seeds, for creating a system that collects statistical data on production areas to control the quantities harvested and sold. This would promote activity and better negotiations with partners.

Target Groups

UGAN, the Union of Associated Groups of Niombato, is an organisation of farmers created in 1992 as an economic interest group. In 2008, it obtained the legal status of association.

Ugan wants to improve the living conditions of the areas they intervene in. By providing active participation of vulnerable groups, they make the areas capable of managing their own economic resources.

In UGAN members’ households, the income from sesame seeds is 40% of their agricultural income, the remaining part being peanut cultivation.

The collaboration between UGAN and Rikolto started in 2006 and initially focused on revitalising the organisation, seeking food security for member farmers. Rikolto's support then continued in the direction of the professionalisation of actors in the value chains, in particular those of sesame seeds.

Intervention Zone

In the Fatick region, which is one of the seven sesame seed producing regions in Senegal, and in the regions of Kaffrine, Tambacounda, Kaolack and Sédhiou.

The Observed Results

The results of this first support were barely acceptable because of the non-certified seeds being used by farmers. As a result, they recorded significant losses due to the mixing of varieties which have different ripening cycles. This led to significant grain losses at harvest time because some varieties reach maturity earlier than others. In addition, farmers were unable to meet market demand for a specific type of sesame seeds due to their harvest containing a variety of blends with different colours and tastes.

The first phase of the test, in 2013, consisted of sowing 0.6 ha in the off-season with pre-basic seed of the 32.15 variety. This resulted in a production of 236 kg of basic sesame seed, i.e., a yield of around 395 kg per hectare. In collaboration with the DISEM (Seed Division), this initial production of 236 kg made it possible to sow a total area of 25 ha in 2014. This resulted in a production of 8 tonnes and yields of 425 kg per hectare. Lastly, this increased to 75 ha being sown in 2015 with a production of 65.7 tonnes.

In all these actions, FENPROSE has been involved as a national umbrella. This project was an innovation in Senegal and a useful and sustainable alternative to establish a stock of homogeneous and economically accessible quality seeds. It was a direct solution to the problem of access to quality seeds.

Although it produced interesting results, the experiment was limited to the department of Foundiougne. In addition, at the end of the experiment, UGAN had not yet started commercialising certified seeds. The products resulting from the experiment had been redistributed to members of the organisation. It was therefore decided to extend the project to other production areas, particularly those in the centre and the south. Still, Rikolto is strengthening UGAN to become an approved seed operator and recognised supplier to the government. Furthermore, it was necessary to diversify their varieties of sesame seeds to meet the needs of the market. UGAN was strengthened to become a real agricultural enterprise producing certified sesame seeds. However, with its limited range of intervention, UGAN could not carry out the scale-up. On the other hand, FENPROSE, the national umbrella for sesame farmers, was recommended to scale-up of sesame seed production. They have much broader coverage present in all the large sesame production regions.