Dr Dante Adorada, from the University of Southern Queensland, has been conducting crop trials of sesame in the Darling Downs (Photo: USQ)

August 16, 2021

Scientists from the University of Southern Queensland are helping to explore the possibility of sesame being grown as an alternative crop to sorghum, soybeans or mungbeans.

Sesame is a tiny seed but USQ researchers believe it holds big potential for Australian farmers looking to take advantage of a growing national and global demand for sesame seed and sesame oil.

Sesame is the focus of a USQ-led AgriFutures Australia Emerging Industries Program research project.

USQ Centre for Crop Health research fellow Dr Dante Adorada has recently completed crop plot trials at six locations around the Darling Downs.

“The trials included a site at the university, farms near Jondaryan, Brigalow, Nandi and Jandowae, and a commercial seed supplier in Allora, which gives you an indication of the interest that exists around this crop,” Dr Adorada said.

Dr Adorada is specifically looking for diseases and pests that could attack sesame and investigate how any diseases or pests discovered could be managed during production.

“We trialled high quality white and black sesame varieties and, in some plots, we found a particular pathogen that caused a disease known as charcoal rot,” he said.

“A few other fungal and bacterial diseases were also found, which while important, were not a surprise.”

Director of the Centre for Crop Health, Professor Levente Kiss, said sesame was of great interest to Australian farmers as it was a drought and heat-tolerant crop.

“With Australia relying on imports of sesame seed and sesame oil, it has the potential to be very lucrative to farmers throughout Queensland and NSW, which makes it an exciting project to be part of,” he said.

The research is led by USQ in collaboration with AgriFutures Australia and is also supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

In March, the Sesame Industry Reference Board was formed as part of the AgriFutures Research Development and Extension Strategic Plan project.

The Board has been given the role of leading the development of the sesame industry in Australia, including the implementation and monitoring of the five-year strategic plan.

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