Sesame belongs to the Pedaliaceae family and is an annual plant growing from 50-100cms in height, with sharp oval leaves. The flowers vary in colour from yellow to white to blue. The seeds are contained in pods 2 to 8cm in length which naturally split open (‘shatter’) when it reaches maturity – thus the famous saying “open sesame”!
Once the sesame seed has been collected from the farmers in Ochero, it is road-transported east across the Kenyan border to Fairoils’ processing facility in Athi River. Fairoils secures seed at the farm gate and pre-finances the purchase of seed to give farmers a secure market and fair price. Each farmer has, on average, five acres of land on which they farm a variety of crops including millet, sorghum and maize, along with cash crops like cotton and sesame. The farmers, through the field officers, learn new techniques to manage this crop, ensuring they get the best possible yield by managing soil conditions, and using more efficient harvesting techniques.
The sesame is harvested twice a year by hand before being transported to and pressed at, our state-of-the-art equipment at Fairoil’s Athi River facility. The seed is screw-pressed at controlled temperatures to reduce damage to the oil’s natural components.
Sesame seed oil is high in Omega 6 (Linoleic) fatty acids and has high antioxidant activity. Sesame seed oil has a reputation as a stable oil, resistant to oxidation. This stability is attributed to its tocopherol content. The total tocopherol content of sesame oil ranges from 330-mg/kg to 1010-mg/kg oil according to the Codex Standard. In addition, sesame seed oil’s stability is further enhanced by the presence of major lignin compounds – sesamolin and sesamol, antioxidants which also promote cell integrity.