Eragrostis abyssinica (Jacq.) Link
Eragrostis tef, teff, Williams lovegrass, annual bunch grass, taf (Amharic: ጤፍ? ṭēff; Tigrinya: ጣፍ? ṭaff), or xaafii (Oromo), is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The word "teff" is connected by folk etymology to the Ethio-Semitic root "ṭff", which means "lost" (because of the small size of the grain).
Eragrostis tef has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing protein and calcium. It is similar to millet and quinoa in cooking, but the seed is much smaller and cooks faster, thus using less fuel.
Eragrostis tef is adapted to environments ranging from drought stress to waterlogged soil conditions. Maximum teff production occurs at altitudes of 1,800 to 2,100 m, growing season rainfall of 450 to 550 mm, and a temperature range of 10 to 27 °C. Teff is daylight sensitive and flowers best with 12 hours of daylight.
Teff is an important food grain in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it is used to make injera or keyta, and less so in India and Australia. It is now raised in the U.S., in Idaho in particular, with experimental plots in Kansas. In addition to people from traditional teff-consuming countries, customers include those on gluten-restricted diets. Because of its small seeds (less than 1 mm diameter), a handful is enough to sow a large area. This property makes teff particularly suited to a seminomadic lifestyle.
Ethiopia had a long standing ban in effect on the export of teff grain or flour from the country prompted by increasing grain prices. In 2015, that ban was lifted after the introduction of farming techniques which improved yields 40%.
Between 8000 and 5000 BC, the people of the Ethiopian highlands were among the first to domesticate plants and animals for food. Teff was one of the earliest plants domesticated. Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia and Eritrea between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. Genetic evidence points to E. pilosa as the most likely wild ancestor. A 19th century identification of teff seeds from an ancient Egyptian site is now considered doubtful; the seeds in question (no longer available for study) are more likely of E. aegyptiaca, a common wild grass in Egypt.
Cultivation and uses
Teff has been widely cultivated and used in Ethiopia and neighborhood countries. Teff accounts for about a quarter of total cereal production in Ethiopia. Teff is gluten-free (and therefore can be consumed by people suffering of gluten-related disorders) and has a high concentration of different nutrients, a very high calcium content, and significant levels of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, aluminum, iron, copper, zinc, boron and barium, and also of thiamin. Teff is high in protein. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition, including all 8 essential amino acids for humans, and is higher in lysine than wheat or barley. Teff is high in carbohydrates and fiber. In one 2003–2004 study in Ethiopia, farmers indicated a preference among consumers for white teff over darker colored varieties. Teff is gaining popularity in the western United States as an alternative forage crop, in rotation with a légume such as alfalfa, because it uses C4 photosynthesis, similar to that of corn. It is noted for its high quality and high yield, when compared to other forage rotations. It is also known as an "emergency crop" because it is planted late in the spring when the growing season is warmer, and most other crops have already been planted. It does not tolerate any type of frost. Teff is also valued for its fine straw, which is traditionally mixed with mud for building purposes. The first draft of the Eragrostis tef genome was published in 2014.
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- "Teff As An Irrigated Alternative Forage" (Mar 11, 2012) Hay & Forage Grower
- Don Miller (2009) "Teff Grass: A New Alternative", UC Davis, California
- Cannarozzi; et al. (2014). "Genome and transcriptome sequencing identifies breeding targets in the orphan crop tef (Eragrostis tef)". BMC Genomics. 15: 581. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-581.
- "Producing gluten–free beer" (Press release). Campden BRI. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eragrostis tef.|
- Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant Products - Eragrostis tef
- University of Bern Tef Improvement Project
- Dressler, S.; Schmidt, M. & Zizka, G. (2014). "Eragrostis tef". African plants – a Photo Guide. Frankfurt/Main: Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg.