Between 8000 and 5000 BC, the peoples of the Ethiopian highlands were among the first to domesticate Teff. To this day it is an important food grain in Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is ground into flour to make “injera”, the traditional flatbread of the Ethiopian peoples. The people of Ethiopia prefer the white Teff seeds over darker colored varieties.

Teff accounts for about a quarter of total cereal production in Ethiopia, and can adapt to a wide range of environments, ranging from drought stress to waterlogged soil conditions. Maximum Teff production occurs at altitudes at 5,000-6,000 feet (a mile high!), growing seasonal rainfall of 18 to 22 inches, and a temperature range of 50 to 81 degrees.

Because of its small seeds (less than 1 mm diameter), a handful is enough to sow a large area. Traditionally, Teff was broadcast by hand by traditional farmers when the ground was wet in the Spring. It then naturally sprouted laying on top of the ground, put roots down, and would begin to grow.

Teff is noted for its high quality and yield. 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. Teff is also valued for its fine straw in traditional cultures, which is mixed with mud for building purposes to make an adobe-type brick. In the US, it is grown in Idaho (sold as “Maskal Teff” by The Teff Company) and in Oregon (by Camas Country Mills).

Teff is very nutritional, being high in dietary fiber, iron, protein and calcium. Protein is about 14%, which is even higher than modern wheat varities! The seed is very small, which makes cooking faster, thus using less fuel for rural peoples. Since there is no gluten in Teff, it is very easy to digest for people who are gluten intolerant.


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