ZIMBABWE – Cashbox Financial Services (CFS), a fully integrated financial services group in Zimbabwe has injected US$25 million to finance production of olive oil seed crop and sesame seeds in the 2020/2021 season under a contract farming scheme.

According to reports by The Herald, the company is targeting to distribute farm inputs to 30,000 farmers across the country, but mostly in the dry to semi-arid regions where the crop thrives the most.

Rolled out under CFS Agro, the programme is aimed to enable smallholder farmers earn foreign currency for their produce and improve their livelihoods.

Areas targeted under the initiative include Tsholotsho, Lusulu, Binga, Gwayi, Checheche, Muzarabani, Mushumbi and rest of the lowveld, mostly arid to semi-arid places, because the crop requires little rainfall.

Other than offering farmers with inputs, CFS will also offer technical support by the use of lead farmers to guide others on best practice techniques of growing the crops.

“We have already recruited 345 lead farmers around the country and those are the ones leading the land preparation because we have already started distributing sesame seed,” said CFS chief executive Benjamin Chimutengo

Sesame seed globally is a US$7.5 billion industry in its raw state but when processed into cooking oil and sesame for confectionery, it add 25 percent to the value.

CFS chief executive Benjamin Chimutengo

The company’s entry into the sesame seed space compliments efforts by the government, which has also rolled out a support scheme for production of the crop under the presidential free inputs programme.

Zimbabwe is targeting to produce 100, 000 tonnes of sesame crop during the 2020/21 season as it moves to boost production of export crops to increase foreign currency earnings.

The growing of sesame is also being promoted to increase feedstock for cooking oil production and as an import substitution strategy.

In Zimbabwe farmers had been producing sesame using their own resources and exporting to Mozambique and other neighbouring countries.

According to the Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report, farmers planted 17 860 hectares during the 2019/20 season and are now harvesting.

Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Masvingo have been the major chief producers of the crop.

Government will from this coming summer cropping season step in with inputs and also secure lucrative markets for the crop.

Production of the crop is being spearheaded by Cottco who are diversifying from cotton production.

“This season we are diversifying to sesame targeting 100, 000 hectares. We are targeting all cotton farmers and we will support farmers with two-hectare inputs for sesame and one hectare for cotton,” said Cottco acting managing director, Mr Pious Manamike.

The country sees sesame production as a lucrative avenue of boosting the economy citing that, Ethiopia is producing 300 000 tonnes and exporting 70 percent to China, earning over US$400 million per year.

“Sesame seed globally is a US$7.5 billion industry in its raw state but when processed into cooking oil and sesame for confectionery, it adds 25 percent to the value,” said Benjamin.

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