Wednesday, 25 November 2015 00:00

What's That Seed? Wednesday

Today's "What's That Seed? Wednesday" comes from our own photo archives from an Ethiopian field visit. Do you recognize this grass? Scroll down to find out what it is.


Photo: USC Canada

It's teff!

Teff, or Eragrostis tef, is a species of an annual crop called lovegrass. It is only cultivated on a large scale in Ethiopia, where it is the country's most important staple food crop. Teff covers more than two million hectares of Ethiopian farmland. So it might not come as a surprise that the crop's centre of origin or "genetic homeland" is the Ethiopian Centre.

Teff is high in protein and calcium and completely void of gluten.

Most teff is used to make injera – a flat, spongy and slightly sour bread – a mainstay of traditional Ethiopian cooking. Because of the relatively high market price for its grain and straw, teff plays an important role in the livelihoods of Ethiopian farmers. The worldwide popularity of Ethiopian cuisine is creating an international market for the grain. But the only legal way for Ethiopian farmers to export teff is through cooked teff products, like injera.

How to save the seed

Farmers in Ethiopia may save the seed by coaxing their oxen to walk in circles over a large pile of the grass, using that motion to dislodge the seed from the rest of the plant. They might also separate the grain from the chaff using a process called winnowing.


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