Ethiopian Teff: an ancient grain. Sant'Anna School researchers identified more than 3,000 varieties to select the best-yielding crop for improving sustainability. This is the largest catalogue ever published

Teff has been grown in Ethiopia for centuries. Teff contains high nutritional values. It is an annual cereal that is a vital part of the African people’s diet (especially East and Horn of Africa area) and is suitable for a gluten-free diet.  A few years ago, studies carried out in Europe and North America, recognized its health and economic benefits as well as its potential to address future challenges on crop diversification and food security. Currently, researchers at the Sant’Anna School Institute of Life Sciences have conducted a new study published in the journal “Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment” establishing the world’s largest catalogue of teff including more than 3,000 varieties.

Scientists are searching for the lowest risk, sustainable, and climate-change resistant crop. In this study, researchers from Sant’Anna School have collaborated with a research team in Ethiopia to test   the variety of teff that combines enhanced nutrition with increased resilience. Identifying teff cultivation as a global opportunity that could benefit more than six million farmers in Ethiopia, researchers have highlighted that the dominance of maize, wheat and rice in our food system should raise an alarm.  Teff could help us deal   with food shortage and promote healthy and sustainable diets.

The catalogue created by scientists from Bioversity International and Arari reflects efforts to characterize Ethiopian teff phenotypic variation in the attempt to adapt production to climate change.

“Teff can boast extraordinary qualities– highlights Matteo dell’Acqua, as a co-author and a researcher in plant genetics at the Institute of Life Sciences– It is the most grown staple food in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa and is widely acclaimed in the Western world as the next gluten-free, nutritious “superfood”. Globally, there is a growing interest in teff cultivation. Teff is cultivated as a cereal crop in Ethiopia but it has been recently introduced to other areas as a forage crop.”

 

Cover photo credit: Aemiro Wodleyohannes

 

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