Indigenous way of extracting edible oil from sesame and sometimes Niger Seed. This is very common in Adiabo, Wolkait, Humera, and other areas.
Ashera (written in Tigrigna as ዓሸራ) is a traditional method of extracting organic edible oil from sesame and sometimes Niger Seed. The pictures below were taken in Sheraro, the historic city in Adiabo, bordering Eritrea.
The main components of Ashera to give pure organic edible oil are sesame and warm water. Approximately 40kg of sesame is added to the wooden cylinder. Then the pestle is made to rotate by the power of a camel. As the milling assembly rotates continuously, the sesame gets squeezed resulting in crude, oil jelly.
This continues for several hours. It’s estimated to take 3 – 4 hours for one complete cycle. This will give an estimated amount of 15 liters of oil. This amount may vary depending on the personal skills, experience, and cylinder-pestle arrangement, the horsepower of the camel, and the size of the cylinder.
The work is extremely labor-intensive, time-consuming, and inefficient. Had this process been supported by scholarly research and attention given by respective government bodies, investors, and/or non-governmental development agencies, people would have self-sustained in the highly scars edible oil.
The oil extracted in such a way is organic and healthy. The residue is also very healthy animal food which is highly recommended for animal fattening.
We cooperate with those interested in conducting research on how to improve this and other indigenous resources and knowledge.