The Kaitano area of the Zambezi Valley is one of the few main producers of sesame (Sesamum indicum) in Zimbabwe. The soils are fertile, alluvial in nature, and the temperatures are usually high, making them suitable for sesame production. However, production of sesame has mainly been localised, and farmers cite several challenges. This study examined opportunities and challenges faced by smallholder farmers in sesame production in the Zambezi Valley. The study used focus group discussion, field observations and literature reviews. The main challenges that the farmers face included; lack of knowledge on agronomic practices, planting populations, and fertility management; lack of access to improved varieties and certified seed; lack of production support, including input schemes; lack of proper markets for sesame in Zimbabwe, and as result most farmers sell their crop across the border in neighbouring Mozambique; low prices; and high susceptibility to pests such as the white cotton mealybug. The opportunities lies in the availability of large tracks of suitable fertile land, ability of sesame to grow under very dry conditions, suitable temperatures, the high nutritional content of sesame which can help reduce nutritional problems, potential for value addition and the availability of a potential market for sesame seed. It is recommended that regular training of farmers be undertaken including availing quality seed and developing improved agronomic practices through community action research to improve sesame production. The provision of market linkages, training in value addition and processing would improve nutrition and livelihoods of the communities.
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RUFORUM Working document series