China emerges as main market for Pakistan’s sesame seed exports

ISLAMABAD-Pakistan’s sesame seed exports witnessed an upward trend during calendar year 2022 owing to China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement and good prices in the Chinese market. Pakistan’s sesame seed exports to China surged to $59.09 million during the first nine months of CY22, showing a growth of 50% on a year-on-year (YoY) basis. In 2022, China imported 39,533 tons of sesame seeds worth $59.09 million, an increase of 22% by volume, compared to 32,487 tons worth $39.44 million during 2021.
Sesame is regarded as an important oilseed crop. It is known as the queen of oil crops due to its high-quality oil and high protein content. Its oil content ranges from 50% to 58%. It is cultivated in hot, dry climates for its oil and protein-rich seeds. Other than raw food and confectionery, sesame seeds are used in sweets, bakery products, soap, perfumes, vegetable oil, and carbon paper.
“Normally, there is a trend of cultivating traditional crops like wheat and rice. But now Pakistani farmers are getting awareness about high-end and high-price products like sesame seed,” said Nazakat Nawaz, Principal Scientific Officer at National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC), while talking to WealthPK.
Nazakat said the farmers are also learning cultivation methods, so hopefully, Pakistan will be the top sesame seed exporter to China in future. “In the past, we sold most of our sesame to the Middle East before China allowed us to enter its market. The Chinese market offers a wide range of opportunities for Pakistani sesame exporters,” he said.
“The Chinese market has two major benefits. The first is that it offers competitive prices compared to our domestic market. Secondly, the market is huge; if someone receives an order, it is typically quite difficult for one exporter to fulfil,” he said. Pakistan exports 80% of the total production of sesame seeds crop. Currently, Iran and China are the big buyers of Pakistan’s sesame, but other countries are gaining market share due to an increase in hulled exports. China’s imports of sesame account for almost one-third of the world’s production. Since 2020, its import exceeded 1 million tons for three consecutive years, providing a huge market for Pakistani producers. Pakistan’s sesame production is also catching up. During recent years, the use of hybrid varieties has greatly increased sesame harvests from a mere 36,000 tons during 2019 to over 150,000 tons during 2022 despite the devastating floods. The increase is mainly thanks to hybrid variety, with higher demand and better quality when compared to farm variety, the size of which has been reduced by 50%.

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