Yobe: An Open Sesame to Industrial Revolution

Yobe is an agrarian state that has been in search of industrialisation and massive production of agricultural products in order to make live easy for its teeming population. The governor of the state may have found this in Sesame seeds and in provision of facilities, Michael Olugbode writes

Sesame is a plant in the genus Sesamum, also called simsim, benne or gingelly. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalised in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods.

Sesame seeds are known as Ridi in Hausa, Yamari or Eeku in Yoruba, Mkpuru sesame in Igbo, Ishwa in Tiv. and Doo in Jukun languages. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds.

Regularly eating substantial portions of these seeds has been identified to aid blood sugar control, combat arthritis pain, and lower cholesterol. Thus, it is of great commercial value and has great potential of even growing higher as it’s demand driven by increasing craving for healthy food options and awareness of the nutritional benefits it holds.

Presently, the global sesame seeds market size is estimated at USD 7.67 billion and is expected to reach USD 8.72 billion by 2029. The market is driven by consumer preference for functional and health-based naturally derived products.

It is a widely used food product in many European countries, and the demand for sesame has grown in recent years due to the increasing interest in healthy and vegan diets. The European sesame seed market is expected to continue growing, driven by an increasing number of conventional and organic sesame market actors. Greece and Germany are the largest markets for sesame, while many other countries are catching up.

The growing demand for sesame seeds as a functional ingredient in several foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic industries is growing by the day and Nigeria sesame seeds producers cannot be left out of the jamboree, and with Yobe state being among the top producing states, it is no wonder the state government under the leadership of Hon. Mai Mala Buni has taken to heart encouraging the farmers of sesame seeds in the state as one of the means to recover from over a decade long insurgency. 

To achieve this, the government has invested N3.5 billion on sesame processing plants in three towns in the state.

Speaking on the investment, the Yobe State Commissioner of Commerce, Hon Kaigama Umar, while taking journalists round one of the sesame seed development centre, said: “The essence of the centre is to add value to the value chain of sesame seed production. Yobe is one of the leading states that produce sesame, but our farmers are not getting value for their money. This is why this centre was established. We have three others in other parts of the state, including Potiskum, Damaturu and Nguru.”

He said: “The government is committed to creating business friendly environment, boosting commerce and driving industrialisation, so far the government has built three ultra-modern markets in Damaturu, Nguru and Gashua to drive commerce (we awarded contract for the construction of ultra-modern markets across the state, the market has 600 shops, administrative blocks, warehouses, mosque, conveniences.”

According to residents, the markets would conveniently enhance commercial activities all over the state. One of the traders said we have a place for our businesses now, the government has done commendably well for us.

It is believed that with Yobe being one of the largest sesame seeds producers in the country, the government with has building of the sesame seeds processing plants in Machina, Damaturu and Potiskum would create job opportunities and to boost economy of state.

Umar said: “We built these plants not to only process and package the seeds produced in Yobe but we are also inviting farmers of sesame seeds across the country to take advantage of the plants here.

Some of the farmers spoken to said, these machines would greatly improve their farming, adding that they were happy to have it as it would surely encourage farmers to put more efforts into cultivating sesame seeds.

“We use to take sesame seeds to Kano and Jigawa to process, but we do not need to do this any more, with these machines here, we can process it here and the cost of transportation would be out of the door. We are surely happy about it.”

To make seamless transportation of sesame seeds and other produce within the state and to outside destinations, the Buni-led administration has constructed major link roads all over the state.

In order to equally boost the industrialisation of the state, the Airport built at over N39 billion is scheduled to be inaugurated soon and opened for commercial operations.

Speaking to journalists at the airport in Damaturu, the Managing Director of the airport, Engr. Muhammad Surajo Wakil said all that is needed to commence commercial operations was almost ready. He noted that when fully operational, the airport will create more job to the people especially the state indigenes and contribute to the state’s economy.

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Energy, Engr. Isyaka Lawan, revealed that N39 billion was spent to execute the project since 2007. He added that the airport’s runway is probably the longest and well-constructed in the country.

He revealed that: “Ninety five per cent of the project had been completed which include a terminal building, runway, control tower, fire station, powerhouse, administrative block, and maintenance office.

“It stretches 3.3 kilometres with 250-metre buffers on either end, bringing the total length to 4.1 kilometres.”.

The permanent secretary explained that the decision to construct the cargo airport stemmed from the absence of such facilities in the North-East region.

He said: “Being an agrarian state, Yobe is expected to benefit significantly from the airport’s ability to boost economic activities. There is an abundance of exportable crops like beans, groundnut, and sesame seeds in the state.”

He, however, noted that neighboring states could utilise the airport to transport goods to other parts of the country and the rest of the world.

Speaking on opportunities opened in commerce in the state, the governor at a press conference where he was represented by the secretary to the state government, Baba Malam Wali, said: “In our continuous efforts to boost commerce and promote industrialisation, we have reactivated the Sahel Aluminum Company, Yobe Flour and Feed Mills Company and Pre-stressed Concrete Pole Company.  

“We have so far completed and commissioned the Ibrahim Geidam Ultra Modern Market, Damaturu; Senator Ahmed I. Lawan Modern Market, Gashua and the Sheikh Ngibirima Ultra Modern Market, Nguru while construction works are ongoing in Geidam and Potiskum Markets.  

“Furthermore, construction of Potiskum Truck Transit Park and Mega Shopping Mall in Damaturu are ongoing also.  Being the State with largest production of high quality Sesame seeds, we are making efforts to complete establishment of three Sesame Seeds processing factories in Damaturu, Nguru and Machina towns. 

“To further boost commercial activities, we constituted the Ease of Doing Business Council under my chairmanship and investors can now get easy access to information on our current business enabling reforms and potentialities of the State through our website http://yapppip.com/resources/.

Now that Yobe has opened itself, it is believed that investors would move in to take advantage of the opportunities waiting to be tapped into.”

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