Jalisco, Mexico

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Restores natural oils and prevents skin drying

Organic sesame oil is an essential component of various Weleda body care products, from refreshing shower creams to baby care. Sesame oil from organic cultivation maintains the skin's moisture, restores natural oils and prevents the skin from drying out.

We receive most of our supply of organic sesame oil from southern Mexico, where we maintain a long-term partnership with the local family business Sesajal, an excellent example of how sustainable business practice benefits the environment and everyone involved in production. Over 200 farmers work on 1,300 acres of land in the geographically-diverse Mexican state of Jalisco, where they harvest first-class sesame.

A reliable partnership

The partnership between Weleda and Sesajal focuses on Weleda’s stringent environmental policies, the quality requirements of customers and quality of life for local farmers. Farmers contracted to Sesajal grow sesame under organic conditions and the harvested sesame is directly processed by Sesajal’s own oil mill. The wages of farmers are above average, so the sesame crop is a lucrative additional income for farmers, who also work on banana, pineapple and papaya plantations. This reliable partnership gives farmers a secure future and keeps them from migrating into the slums of the big cities.

Nevertheless, working with the raw materials is not easy. For us, caution is paramount in raw material procurement and processing as the entire supply chain, from cultivation to packaging, needs to be completely traceable. To distinguish organic sesame seeds from conventional ones, they are immediately marked after the harvest on the field and labelled ‘Organico Ajonjoli’ by the farmers. So organic sesame seeds reach the oil mill in Guadalajara clearly labelled and can be stored without confusion or cross-contamination.

Harvested by hand

Sesame is mainly harvested by hand – together, between four and six farmers can harvest an acre a day. That’s obviously labour-intensive, so one of our major challenges is to increase the efficiency of production and build up the income for farmers. To this end, in 2009 three harvest vehicles were purchased, and three tractors provided, helping to increase the farmers’ productivity and income. Sesajal also employs two agricultural engineers who will - together with the farmers - cultivate the fields and give support to increase yields. Soil quality will be improved, new crops grown alongside sesame and the fields will be fertilised with compost. Currently, the fields are harvested once a year, but in the long-term a second crop should be possible, in the dry season from February to May.