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Move Over Quinoa, It’s Teff’s Turn

January 25, 2014


Ethiopian Farmers Harvesting Teff

Ethiopian Farmers Harvesting Teff

An interesting story in The Guardian this week argues that teff—an ancient Ethiopian grain—is poised to be the next global super grain. Teff is rich in calcium, iron, and protein. It’s gluten-free, and makes an outstanding substitute for wheat flouwer in most baked goods. And it’s an Ethiopian staple, most often ground into flour to make injera, large spongy, fermented pancakes used to scoop up stews (called wots).

The Ethiopian government is excited to raise the profile of teff. Classified as a least-developed country and with an annual gross domestic product of about $470 per capita, the government hopes that increased global demand for teff could provide some relief to Ethiopian farmers who produce the vast majority of the world’s teff supply. But as the experiences of Bolivia and Peru (and the case of quinoa) suggest, increasingly popular stables in global markets can disrupt local production, leading to malnutrition and hunger amid growing food exports. It’s a situation that warrants watching.


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  1. Reblogged this on Science on the Land and commented:
    argylesock says… Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a neglected crop which might be the nest big thing. But as the Guardian writers point out, the recent history of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) provides a cautionary tale. Smallholders can be robbed of their food sovereignty.

  2. Kitchen-Counter-Culture permalink

    I’m glad you point out the parallel with quinoa and pricing local people out of the market… Last spring I was chatting with an Ethiopian restauranteur in Amsterdam– his injera (which I love) was made with wheat not teff, and he claimed there just wasn’t the export supply. I’m wondering if for him it was a matter of cost… I wonder how a widened export market would reduce cost for the consumer abroad but not in Ethiopia itself. Isn’t Ethiopia also a place where land grabs are happening? Hmmm. Lots to think about. I enjoy your blog. Thank you.

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