Eragrostis tef

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Eragrostis tef
Teff pluim Eragrostis tef.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Eragrostis
Species: E. tef
Binomial name
Eragrostis tef
(Zucc.) Trotter

Eragrostis abyssinica (Jacq.) Link

Eragrostis tef, also known as teff, Williams' lovegrass or annual bunch grass, is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to Ethiopia and Eritrea.[1][self-published source] It is raised for its edible seeds, also known as teff.

It is also occasionally known by the native names taf (Tigrinya: ጣፍ ṭaff; Amharic: ጤፍ ṭēff) and xaafii (Oromo).


Teff has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing protein and calcium.[2] It is similar to millet and quinoa in cooking, but the seed is much smaller and cooks faster, thus using less fuel.


Teff 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 (5,900 to 6,900 ft), growing season rainfall of 450 to 550 mm (18 to 22 in), and a temperature range of 10 to 27 °C (50 to 81 °F). 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 US, in Idaho and Nevada. In addition to people from traditional teff-consuming countries, customers include those on gluten-restricted diets.[3] 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.[4] In 2015, that ban was lifted after the introduction of farming techniques which improved yields by 40%.[5]

Teff, cooked
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy422 kJ (101 kcal)
19.86 g
Dietary fiber2.8 g
0.65 g
3.87 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.183 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.033 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.909 mg
Vitamin B6
0.097 mg
Folate (B9)
18 μg
MineralsQuantity %DV
49 mg
2.05 mg
50 mg
2.86 mg
120 mg
107 mg
8 mg
1.11 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water74.93 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.


Teff was one of the earliest plants domesticated.[6] Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. Genetic evidence points to E. pilosa as the most likely wild ancestor.[7] 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.[8]

Teff and sorghum, ingredients for tella

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Teff is noted for its high quality and high yield, when compared to other forage rotations.[9] 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.[10] The first draft of the Eragrostis tef genome was published in 2014.[11] In 1996, the US National Research Council characterized teff as having the "potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare."[2]

Teff has been widely cultivated and used in Ethiopia and neighboring countries, accounting for about a quarter of total cereal production in Ethiopia.[12] Teff is a main ingredient for preparing injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread.[13] Teff is high in protein, carbohydrates and fiber.[14] In one study in Ethiopia, farmers indicated a preference among consumers for white teff over darker colored varieties.[15]

As a nutritious fodder, teff is used to feed ruminants in Ethiopia[16] and horses in the United States.[17]

Teff is also valued for its fine straw, which is traditionally mixed with mud for building purposes.

Patent and controversy[edit]

A broad patent on many aspects of the use and processing of teff and teff flour has been granted in 2007 by the European Patent Office (EPO) to a Dutch company.[18] This patent is considered unfair [19] and is being contested since 2014 or earlier.[20][21] There has also been a patent application in the U.S. regarding the processing of teff flour.[22]


Cooked teff is 75% water, 20% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and less than 1% fat (table). In a 100 gram amount, cooked teff provides 101 Calories, is a rich source of manganese, and contains moderate content of thiamin, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc.


  1. ^ Aptekar, Lewis (2013). In the Lion's Mouth: Hope and Heartbreak in Humanitarian Assistance. XLibris LLC. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-4836-9519-8.
  2. ^ a b National Research Council (14 February 1996). "Tef". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains. Lost Crops of Africa. 1. National Academies Press. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-309-04990-0. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  3. ^ Forester, Sandra (13 March 2003). "Idaho farmers may try teff Gluten-free grain touted as cure for celiac disease". Idaho Statesman.
  4. ^ Jeffrey, James (2 April 2015). "Will Ethiopia's teff be the next 'super grain'?". BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  5. ^ Nurse, Earl (18 December 2015). "Teff, the Ethiopian superfood that used to be banned?". CNN. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  6. ^ Murphy, Denis J. (2007). People, Plants, and Genes: The Story of Crops and Humanity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199207145.
  7. ^ Ingram, Amanda L.; Doyle, Jeff J. (2003). "The origin and evolution of Eragrostis tef (Poaceae) and related polyploids: Evidence from nuclear waxy and plastid rps16". American Journal of Botany. 90 (1): 116–122. doi:10.3732/ajb.90.1.116. JSTOR 4122731. PMID 21659086.
  8. ^ Germer, Renate (1985). Flora des pharaonischen Ägypten. Mainz: von Zabern. ISBN 3-8053-0620-2.
  9. ^ "Teff As An Irrigated Alternative Forage". Hay & Forage Grower. Mar 11, 2012. Archived from the original on May 15, 2012.
  10. ^ Miller, Don (2009) "Teff Grass: A New Alternative", UC Davis, California
  11. ^ Cannarozzi, G.; 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. PMC 4119204. PMID 25007843.
  12. ^ Gabre-Madhin, Eleni Zaude (2001). Market Institutions, Transaction Costs, and Social Capital in the Ethiopian Grain Market. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. ISBN 9780896291263.
  13. ^ Davidson, Alan (2014). Jaine, Tom, ed. The Oxford Companion to Food (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 812. ISBN 0-19-967733-6.
  14. ^ El-Alfy, T. S.; Ezzat, S. M.; Sleem, A. A. (2012). "Chemical and biological study of the seeds of Eragrostis tef(Zucc.) Trotter". Natural Product Research. 26 (7): 619. doi:10.1080/14786419.2010.538924. PMID 21867458.
  15. ^ Belay, G.; Tefera, H.; Tadesse, B.; Metaferia, G.; Jarra, D.; Tadesse, T. (2006). "Participatory Variety Selection in the Ethiopian Cereal Tef (Eragrostis Tef)". Experimental Agriculture. 42 (1): 91–101. doi:10.1017/S0014479705003108.
  16. ^ Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Lebas F., 2017. Tef (Eragrostis tef) straw. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.
  17. ^ Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., Lebas F., 2017. Tef (Eragrostis tef) hay. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO.
  18. ^ EP1646287B1 - Verarbeitung von teff-mehl – Google Patents (in German; "Processing of teff flour")
  19. ^ FNI News: How Ethiopia Lost Control of Its Teff Genetic Resources (Archived)
  20. ^ Ethiopia to Sue Dutch Company for Bio-Piracy – Abyssinia
  21. ^ The Revocability of the Teff Patent Right | Beka Tesgera –
  22. ^ US20060286240A1 - Processing of teff flour - Google Patents

External links[edit]