Cómo mejorar la fertilidad de los campos de sésamo

por Robert Okello Omach

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En el distrito de Lamwo, en el norte de Uganda, el sésamo (ajonjolí, ndr) se cultiva mayormente en parcelas que permanecieron en barbecho el año o los años anteriores. Esas parcelas tienen un alto contenido de materia orgánica y por lo tanto un alto índice de fertilidad. Esta práctica, sin embargo limita la participación de los ancianos en la producción de sésamo (que es sin embargo, uno de los cultivos que genera mayores ingresos), ya que los campesinos tienen que alejarse mucho de sus granjas (un promedio de unos 6 km) para acceder a las parcelas en barbecho o sin cultivar. Un anciano campesino me preguntó cómo se podría mejorar la fertilidad de las parcelas en torno a sus casas para poder utilizarlas para la producción de sésamo. Me gustaría conocer las opiniones y experiencias de los colegas sobre este tema.


Robert Okello Omach
Oficial de desarrollo agrícola
Mercy Corps, Uganda


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Mr. Jean-Laurent Bungener consultant, France

Depending on soil structures you can use living organic matter during the rainy season to improve yieldings.

What I need before is to know what kind of plant are growing near the village during the rainy season; What is the length of grass at the end of the season, are  there trees, could the elders find ashes or other sources of fertilizers,  and so on. Could you describe us the biological (ecological) context during the rainy season? What is the amount of rain? What is the need of elders for sesame production? are we in a flat country?

If grass are not growing more than 40 cm the use of fertilizers (organics or mineral) is needed. If no vegetation could grow, you have to use Zai techniques or cover the soil during the rainy season with mulch and so on. If grass is growing fast and high, or you have some leguminous trees around you can use this biomass production during the cultivation time (agroforestry).

First of all, you have to test water infiltration rate using simple techniques (use a can )



Stacia Nordin, Malawi
Stacia Nordin

Great input from everyone on organic production!

I would add one note of caution that some people use the term Conservation Agriculture but use herbicides and artificial fertilizers which can be avoided with the ideas given by our colleagues in this conversation thread.

We use Permaculture designing to keep our soil healthy, making sure that our systems have closed loops so that all the outputs of one system (such as food, stems, roots, husks, peels, manure, urine, etc.) go into the inputs of different systems (kitchens for humans, worms, fish, animals, compost, etc.). These are just a few examples.

For more ideas you can see our website:

or contact me directly if you have additional questions:

Mohammed Shams Mekky Nagdy Mekky Agricultural Research Center, Egypt
Mohammed Shams Mekky Nagdy Mekky

Hi, all members 
the fertility of the plots around the homesteads for sesame production can be improved by Organic Gardener's (Composting). In most parts of the country, enough organic materials accumulate around an average home, dust from the vacuum cleaner, and kitchen garbage to make all the compost. It is not difficult to find very large quantities of organic materials that are free or cost very little. As far as possible using parts of plants can have allelopathic effect to make the compost overcome weeds problem and weed infestation in sesame plots. Coverage crop management is a very important issue because of its implications for soil, nutrient, pest and weed management. It is stressed that direct (physical) weed control can only be successful where preventive and cultural weed management is applied to reduce weed emergence (e.g. through appropriate choice of crop sequence, tillage, smother⁄ cover crops) and improve crop competitive ability (e.g. through appropriate choice of crop genotype, sowing ⁄ planting pattern and fertilization strategy). Two examples of system-oriented weed management systems designed for organic agriculture are illustrated as well as future perspectives and problems. Please open the link here.

Best regard Mohammed Shams Mekky Weed Research Central Laboratory - Agricultural Research Center, Giza Egypt 

John Rachkara TechnoServe Inc./Uganda, Uganda
John Rachkara

Dear Robert,
I agree with you. Kindly note also that sesame grows best on medium to light, well-drained soil. Heavy clay soils require good drainage or raised beds and light irrigation. It prefers slightly acid to alkaline soils (pH 5-8) with moderate fertility. It does not like salt. Sesame is regularly planted after cotton, corn, sorghum, peanuts, and soybeans without any problems. There have been successful rotations with other vegetables. The possible scenario is that farmers in your location prefer fallowed land since weed build-up on fallowed land is low and as a result, it saves them from manual weeding. If the elders can not travel long distances to access 'virgin' lands, advice them to turn to alternative crops such as vegetable which are very much paying. For example, if one can cultivate 1ac of tomatoes, s/he can earn up to 4000USD if s/he applies good management practices. The revenues earned from tomatoes sales can be used to buy sesame if sesame is a food security crop. Note that FS is defined in 4 dimensions.

Robert Hargrave ECHO, Estados Unidos de América

ECHO recommends conservation agriculture methods to improve the fertility of homestead plots. The basic principles are to minimize soil disturbance, keep the soil covered with mulch or fallow crops and to rotate crops to minimize pest buildup.
Another key is to plant at the right time and maintain high standards of weed control and crop nutrient additions. Nutrients can be provided with compost, manure, precise applications of mineral fertilizers or a combination depending on the nutrient resources available.
Some methods promote the creation of permanent planting stations for each growing plant.
More information can be obtained from the African Conservation Tillage Network -- and from Foundations for Farming --
Sincerely yours,
ECHO Staff