Sesame: sustainable cultivation

As we marked Earth Day on April 22nd, it's a moment to pause and reflect on our actions and their impact on our planet. Climate change is already causing extreme weather events in many parts of the world, underscoring the urgent need to find sustainable alternatives to our current practices. But sustainability goes beyond just protecting the environment; it also encompasses social and economic aspects. Sustainable agriculture is crucial to protect our resources, and sesame has potential to be a key player.

Sesame can grow in somewhat infertile soils. This means that it can grow in environments with low nutrient content. In some cases, even though the soil is not very fertile, farmers do not add fertilizers because the crop can still grow. This is a positive attribute of sesame because sustainable agriculture practices recommend avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers. However, the yield of sesame really increases when the nutrient levels increase

So even though the farmers still get to harvest their sesame crops without adding any fertilizers, their harvest would be better if they added some nutrients to the soil. An alternative option to chemical fertilizers is the use of bio-fertilizers or microbial inoculants. These are bacteria or fungi that are added to the soil because they can create a symbiotic relationship with the sesame plant and provide nutrients. A study in Nigeria showed that the use of bio-fertilizers and manure was beneficial for sesame growth, so adopting this measure is a good option for farmers in infertile soils.

In arid areas, sesame has been a good crop to plant because it does not require big amounts of water. In fact, sesame is mostly grown with rainwater, which makes it an ideal crop in areas where access to water is an issue.

But this is not a fairy tale, and even though sesame has shown to have a tolerance to droughts, when the crops are subjected to extreme drought conditions, the yield and quality of seeds get affected. In order to overcome this, scientists try to identify specific sesame genotypes that do better in these conditions. That way, farmers can use the seeds corresponding to the drought-resistant crops when the planting season comes around.

Sesame has been regarded by researchers and farmers as a sustainable crop. This is mainly because it can grow in harsh conditions. It doesn’t require a lot of water, and it has shown resistance to pests. In terms of nutrients, it is low maintenance and does not require much, so it’s a good option for areas with harsh conditions. It’s an ideal crop for implementing sustainable agriculture practices, and since it’s mostly cultivated in developing countries, it really could make a difference in those farmers’ lives.

References:

Abdullahi R, Sheriff HH, Lihan S. (2013). Combine effect of bio-fertilizer and poultry manure on growth, nutrients uptake and microbial population associated with sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) in North-Eastern Nigeria. Sci. Toxi. Food Tech.; 5, 60-65.

Dossa K, Yehouessi LW, Likeng-Li-Ngue BC, Diouf D, Liao B, Zhang X, Cissé N, Bell JM. (2017). Comprehensive Screening of Some West and Central African Sesame Genotypes for Drought Resistance Probing by Agromorphological, Physiological, Biochemical and Seed Quality Traits. Agronomy. 7(4), 83.

Myint D, Gilani SA, Kawase M, Watanabe KN. (2020). Sustainable Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Production through Improved Technology: An Overview of Production, Challenges, and Opportunities in Myanmar. Sustainability. 12(9), 3515.