Open Sesame: ‘Financially attractive’ and ‘farm-to-fork’ seed developed for local cultivation

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/insjoy)
(Image: Getty/insjoy)

Related tags: sesame, israel, Crops

Equinom has developed a sesame variety suitable for mechanised harvesting, which product manager Oron Gar says could “dramatically change the global sesame production map”.

The Israeli seed tech company has developed, and patented, the sesame variety in order to open new markets for the cultivation of sesame.

A total of 4.6 million metric tonnes of sesames were produced in 2017 worldwide – a figure that is expected to increase by 1.3% until 2023.

China and India are the top producers, according to analysts Research and Markets, and increased health awareness combined with Asian and African diet influences in Europe are contributing to growing demand. In the EU, Greece is the largest importer of sesame seeds, following by Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

GettyImages-865339318
Sesame seeds are used in a variety of food products, such as tahini (Image: Getty/manyakotic)

“Sesame has high nutritional value and taste, making it a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of food applications, such as hummus, bakery, tahini, and in confectionery,” ​Equinom’s VP and product manager, Oron Gar, told FoodNavigator.

High-yield, shatter-resistant

Sesame is a versatile crop that thrives in arid to tropical climates. The plant can withstand extreme temperatures up to 50 degrees Celcius.

However, harvesting sesame seeds can prove less economical than other varieties. When sesame pods ripen, they shatter, dispersing the valuable seeds. “This restricts them solely to manual harvesting, where much of the sesame is lost and is more vulnerable to contamination and infiltration of dirt and sand,” ​according to the firm.   

Equinom’s sesame variety, however, produces high-yield, high-nutrition, ‘shatter-resistant’ seeds suitable for mechanical harvesting.

“For consumers, this means food manufacturers can incorporate highly nutritious, clean and safe sesame into their products,” ​Gar told us.

The development will also help to remove technical and financial barriers that have limited production to Africa, Asia and South America, he continued.

“Our sesame dramatically changes the global sesame production map, creating the perfect conditions for growing sesame where it is consumed, by making it a local crop in the US, Australia and Southern Europe.

“The technology also brings new hope to farmers located in desert regions where extreme weather conditions threaten crop performance.”

“By deploying our innovative breeding technology, we can transform the dynamics of a stagnant market, ensuring product safety and traceability throughout the supply chain.” ​– Itay Dana, marketing director for Equinom.

Farm-to-fork

By cultivating locally and reducing the need for import, the development will also help farmers work within a more responsible supply chain, that comes with greater price stability, according to the firm.

“Rather than being an imported crop, we have created the conditions for sesame to grow locally, where both food companies and consumers will be able to trace the source of the sesame all the way to the farmer that grew the crop and ensure better control of the supply chain,” ​said Gar.

“This shift makes our product not only nutritionally superior and financially attractive but also a farm-to-fork food which is sustainable and traceable,” ​he continued.

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