In a remarkable turn of events, Pakistan’s sesame exports have experienced an unprecedented surge, reaching a substantial $407 million in 2023. This achievement has catapulted Pakistan to the 5th position among leading sesame-exporting nations, with a remarkable 80% of these exports being absorbed by China.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research proudly declares this accomplishment as a major breakthrough in Pakistan’s agricultural sector, crediting the success to the National Oilseeds Enhancement Program (NOEP). This collaborative initiative with provincial governments has not only reshaped the nation’s sesame production landscape but has also unlocked unprecedented growth and export potential.
Sesame, once considered a minor crop confined to marginal lands, has now become a pivotal cash crop within Pakistan’s agricultural portfolio. The NOEP, a PSDP-funded project, has played a pivotal role in this transformative journey, significantly boosting sesame production and exports in just four years. Working closely with provincial Agriculture departments in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan has been instrumental in this success.
Sesame cultivation, which historically was limited to specific districts, has expanded exponentially. Between 1948 and 2019, the area dedicated to sesame increased from 18,000 to 135,600 hectares, accompanied by a production surge from 6,000 to 69,600 tons. Under the NOEP in the last four years (2019-2024), sesame cultivation has seen an even more remarkable expansion, increasing from 139,400 to 399,493 hectares—an impressive 2.87x growth.
Punjab emerged as the leading province, contributing a staggering 95% of sesame production, followed by Sindh (2.1%) and Balochistan (2.2%). The average yield of sesame witnessed a substantial increase of 69%, rising from 442 to 750 kg/ha within the NOEP’s tenure.
Balochistan, with its favorable climatic conditions, presents untapped potential for further expansion. This success story not only transforms sesame farming but also heralds a new era of agricultural prosperity in Pakistan. Farmers now find themselves in an elevated position, with sesame emerging as a key driver of economic growth and food security. The NOEP’s strategic interventions have set a benchmark for sustainable agricultural practices, promising a brighter future for the nation’s agricultural landscape.