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May 11, 2009

Ethiopia poised to become a leading exporter in sesame seeds

by Desalegn Sisay

Ethiopia, Africa’s largest sesame exporter, sold 1.18 million birr worth of sesame on the first day of trading through a new electronic trading system at its commodity exchange.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) which opened in April last year already trades agricultural commodities such as coffee, maize, wheat and corn. Sesame, the latest commodity, was launched on May 5.

Exporters traded 1000 quintals of sesame with prices ranging from 1,300 birr to 1,400 birr per quintal according to the grade of the product. Separated into three classes: Humera, Gonder and Wellega, the first two classes are subdivided into two grades each whilst the third has three grades.

Notwithstanding the end of the local sesame market season, "the surprisingly strong trading of the produce" has reaped enormous "benefits for the ECX", indicated Eleni Z. G. Medihin, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ECX. She hopes for larger trading volumes when the next season begins in October.

According to the Ethiopian government, "trading sesame through the exchange will help small farmers get a better price" for their produce and also "improve the quality" of the country’s sesame exports.

With a rapidly growing export performance in recent years, destined for markets in China, Japan, Korea, Israel and Turkey, analysts say Ethiopia is poised to become one of the top two leading sesame exporting countries in the world. Currently occupying the fourth position on the global market after China, India, and Burma, respectively, the country exports almost all of its sesame production.

This year, Ethiopia aims to export "more than 720,000 tonnes of oilseeds, pulses and spices" which translates into some "$715 million in earnings, a 94 per cent increase in the previous year’s revenue", the Ethiopian Oil Seeds, Pulses and Spices Exporters Association has said.

Sesame output is the largest in the eastern African country’s oilseed production.


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