By Ndafadza Madanha
THE Korea Progamm for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technoloy (KOPIA) in collaboration with Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) has a project running for sesame seed production whose aim is to improve the livelihoods of the farmers thereby improving their economic outlook as well as making them food secure.
Additionally the project aims is to improve knowledge of the farmers on the good agricultural practices of sesame seed production to ensure high yields and good quality crop.
Over the years sesame has grown in demand globally owing to its health enhancing properties. The group is widely grown in Africa and Asia with the two continents accounting for 90 percent of production.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that production of sesame in 2017 was around 5.5 million tons and growing.
The project is working with 30 lead farmers in Mt Darwin who have been trained and provided with all inputs necessary for growing seed. The farmers are cultivating black, white and brown sesame seed varieties. Extension and support services are provided to the farmers at every stage to ensure implementation of good agricultural practices as well as proper pest and disease management to avoid crop losses.
The crop was planted on the late last year and upon flowering the field was then monitored for pod/capsule setting. Once this was observed, the farmers then conducted pinching of their crop. This is an act akin to pruning, but in this case is characterised by the removal of the flowers. This aids to discourage lateral growth of the plant at the expense of pod filling.
During the field day KOPIA and SIRDC were able to showcase what they had under trial and many farmers expressed satisifaction at the state of the crop and were highly motivated. Farmers not currently in the program expressed interest in cultivating sesame in the next cropping season. The lead farmers are kin to increase their acreage under the crop.
Farmers were trained on harvesting methods and post-harvest assessment.