Niger is native to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Malawi .It is a stout, erect annual herb growing up to 2m tall. Niger seed is often harvested as a source of a good quality oil. It also provides an edible seed, and has medicinal uses. It has a history of cultivation dating back to around 3,000 BC and is still often grown, especially in Africa and India, as an oil seed crop.
Niger seed contains proteins, oil and soluble sugars, and yields about 30–35% of its weight in oil which is clear, slow-drying, and edible. Niger seed oil is a polyunsaturated semi-drying oil. It has a pale yellow or orange color with a nutty taste and sweet odor. The black seed has an adherent thick seed coat, and can be stored for a year without deterioration.
Common names include: noog/nug, niger, nyger, nyjer, or niger seed ,ramtil or ramtilla, inga seed and blackseed.
- The raw oil has a low acidity and can be used directly for cooking. It is used as a substitute for olive oil, can be mixed with linseed oil, and is used as an adulterant for rape oil, sesame oil etc.
- The oil is used in cooking as a ghee substitute and can be used in salad dressings.
- Niger seeds are also used for human consumption in the southern parts of India.They are used to make a dry chutney, which is used as an accompaniment with breads .
- They are also used as a spice in some curries.
- The seed is eaten fried, used as a condiment or dried then ground into a powder and mixed with flour to make sweet cakes.
- In Ethiopia the slightly roasted seeds are ground with salt and mixed with roasted cereals to prepare snacks, locally called ‘litlit’ and ‘chibito’, which are presented during coffee ceremonies.
- The oil from the seeds is used in the treatment of rheumatism.
- It is also applied to treat burns
- The seed is often sold as birdseed as it is a favorite of finches, especially the goldfinch and the green finch.
- The seed’s oil is widely used for industrial purposes such as soap making, paints preparations and preparation of different types of emulsions.
- Niger oil cake, which consists of the residues obtained after processing of the seeds to make oil, is rich in protein and is used to feed livestock, particularly in Ethiopia.
- The plant can be used as a green manure.
- Requiring moderate rainfall between 1000 and 1250 mm annually, niger seed needs moist soil to grow properly.
- Niger should be grown in light black soils or brownish loam with sufficient depth but it also can be grown on well drained heavy soils.
- It can grow in semi-shade or full sun.
- Plant the seeds in the spring after the last threat of frost or later in the year.
- Direct sown and only just cover the seed.
- Make sure the soil does not dry out because this would delay germination.
- In warm weather, germination should take place within 3 – 4 days of sowing the seed.
- The plant requires about 75 days from planting to harvest.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.