Author Topic: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff  (Read 3079 times)

Wellspring

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Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« on: June 16, 2009, 03:51:11 PM »
I'm going to give Buckweat a try.  Thinking of growing Teff.  It has a short season. 

Any folks out there that have experience growing it?

http://www.worldbank.org/html/cgiar/newsletter/Sept97/10tef.html

Tef

by Seyfu Ketema

In cooperation with the German Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, IPGRI is publishing a series of monographs promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. Booklet 12 is devoted to Tef, Ethiopia's traditional staple, a robust cereal crop that tolerates moisture stress and is the optimal ingredient of Ethiopia's delicious enjera bread. The monographs aim at "identifying constraints in the use of the crops and possible solutions, identifying possible untapped genetic diversity for breeding and crop improvement programs; and detecting existing gaps in available conservation and use approaches." The following article is based on excerpts from the booklet.

Center of origin and diversity

The fact that several endemic and nonendemic species of Eragrostis, some of which are considered the wild relatives of tef, are found in Ethiopia and, in addition, the fact that the genetic diversity for tef exists nowhere in the world except in Ethiopia, indicates that tef originated and was domesticated in Ethiopia. Vavilov identified Ethiopia as the centre of origin and diversity of tef. As with several other crops, the exact date and location for the domestication of tef is unknown. However, there is no doubt that it is a very ancient crop in Ethiopia, where domestication took place before the birth of Christ.

On the basis of linguistic, historic, geographic and botanical notes, tef is assumed to have originated in northeastern Africa. The current area of cultivation is probably not the initial one of domestication; domestication probably occurred in the western area of Ethiopia, where agriculture is precarious and semi-nomadic.

Geographic distribution

Most of the Ethiopian farmers use traditional landraces of tef and these are distributed all over the country. Local cultivars such as Gea­Lamie, Dabi, Shewa­Gimira, Beten and Bunign, which are early maturing varieties (<85 days), are widely used in areas that have a short growing period due to low moisture stress or low temperature. The same varieties are also used in areas with adequate rainfall and where double cropping is practiced. In the highly productive and major tef­producing regions of Gojam and Shewa, and in other regions where environmental stress is not severe, the local cultivars such as Alba, Ada and Enatit are used. Modern varieties are used in many regions but in very small areas within each region. In the regions of Gojam and Shewa, which are located in the central highlands of Ethiopia and are also the largest and major tef production areas in the country, modern varieties are used as well as traditional landraces and local cultivars.

Properties

The composition of tef is similar to that of millet, although it contains generally higher amounts of the essential amino acids. The amino acid composition of tef is excellent, its lysine content is higher than that of all cereals except rice and oats, it has good mineral content and its straw is nutritious.

Uses

In Ethiopia, tef is traditionally grown as a cereal crop. The grain is ground to a flour which is mainly used for making a popular pancake -- like the local bread called enjera -- and sometimes for making porridge. The grain is also used to make local alcoholic drinks, called tela and katikala. Tef straw, besides being the most appreciated feed for cattle, is also used to reinforce mud and plaster the walls of tukuls and local grain storage facilities called gotera. Tef grain, owing to its high mineral content, has started to be used in mixtures with soybean, chickpea and other grains in the baby food industry.

Enjera made from tef is traditionally consumed with wot, a sauce made of meat or ground pulses like lentil, faba bean, field pea, broad bean and chickpea. The traditional way of consuming tef with wot provides a well balanced diet.

Conservation

The Plant Genetic Resources Centre of Ethiopia (PGRC/E), now called the Biodiversity Institute, is actively engaged in collecting, conservation and characterization. Utilization of the germplasm for the tef improvement program is mainly done in cooperation with the Institute of Agricultural Research. Currently the PGRC/E has a total of 3842 accessions of tef out of which 187 accessions are repatriations, 357 selections, 1310 accessions collected by other institutes and 1988 accessions collected by the PGRC/E.

Breeding activities

Applied breeding work to improve tef included direct selection from the landraces and intraspecific hybridization, while at the basic research level, investigations were made in the area of biotechnology. The applied research attempts in the areas of mutation and interspecific hybridization programs have not yet contributed to the development of improved cultivars.

On the other hand, the direct selection from the landraces and the intraspecific hybridization program which was employed to effect gene recombination were successful in developing several improved cultivars of tef with desired traits. The improved cultivars developed include: cultivars that have high grain yield with wide or specific adaptation, cultivars with acceptable high grain quality, and early maturing, high-yielding varieties. All the improved cultivars were accepted by farmers and currently are in production. Direct selection from the landraces, mutation breeding and intraspecific hybridization were tried for developing lodging­resistant varieties. However, so far no success has been achieved.

Lodging is still one of the production constraints and therefore the breeding program has the development of lodging-resistant varieties as one of its objectives. Other production constraints are: low-yielding cultivars, low moisture stress resistance, waterlogging, frost, weeds, poor soil fertility, diseases and insects. Generally, the tef crop improvement program attempts to solve these production constraints through a multidisciplinary research approach. Specifically, the breeding program should overcome the problems of low grain yield, and also develop cultivars that are resistant to low moisture, waterlogging and disease as there is a wealth of genetic diversity within tef germplasm.

Ecology

Tef is adapted to a wide range of environments and is presently cultivated under diverse agroclimatic conditions. It can be grown from sea level up to 2800 m asl, under various rainfall, temperature and soil regimes. However, according to experience gained so far from national yield trials, conducted at different locations across the country, tef performs excellently at an altitude of 1800­2100 m, annual rainfall of 750­850 mm, growing season rainfall of 450­550 mm and a temperature range of 10°C­27°C. A very good result can also be obtained at an altitude range of 1700­2200 m and growing­season rainfall of 300 mm.

Agronomy

In Ethiopia, tef is cultivated in much the same way as wheat and barley. Depending on the location and maturity period of the cultivar, it is grown during the main growing season between July and November, and also during the small rainy season between March and June. It is mainly cultivated as a monocrop, but occasionally under a multiple cropping system.

Limitations of the crop

The small size of tef seed poses problems during sowing, and indirectly during weeding and threshing. At sowing, the very small seed size makes it difficult to control population density and its distribution. This remains true whether one broadcasts the seed by hand, uses a broadcaster or a seed driller.

The uneven plant stand after germination has an impact on nutrient use, efficiency of the crop and crop yield. Owing to the scattered plant stand, farmers find it difficult to use mechanical weeding implements and are forced to either hand-weed or to use chemical herbicides.

Landraces and current cultivars give low yield. At present the national average grain yield of tef is 910 kg/ha. Improved varieties of tef give a grain yield of 1700-2200 kg/ha on farmers' fields and 2200-2800 kg/ha on research­managed large farms. However, no comprehensive study has been conducted to assess the yield potential of the crop.

Prospects and research needs

Ethiopian farmers prefer to grow tef because of the following advantages:

    * It can be grown in areas experiencing moisture stress.

    * It can be grown in waterlogged areas and withstands anaerobic conditions better than many other cereals, including maize, wheat and sorghum.

    * It is suitable for use in multiple­cropping systems such as double, relay and intercropping.

    * Its straw is a valuable feed during the dry season when there is an acute shortage. It is highly preferred by cattle over the straw of other cereals and demands high prices in the markets.

    * It has acceptance in the national diet, has high demand and high market value and hence enables farmers to earn more than with other crops.

    * It is a reliable and low­risk crop.

    * In moisture­stress areas, farmers use it as a rescue crop. For example, around Kobo and Zeway, which are areas with low and erratic rainfall, farmers first plant maize around April. If this fails after a month or more because of moisture stress or pest problems they plough it under and plant sorghum. If this also fails after a month or more then they sow tef as a last resort, which often survives on the remaining moisture in the soil and yields some grain for human consumption and straw for feed.

    * It is not attacked by weevils and other storage pests and therefore is easily and safely stored under local storage conditions. This results in reduced post­harvest management costs.

    * Compared with any other cereals growing in Ethiopia it has fewer disease and pest problems.
Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.         ~Marcus Aurelius

The Future

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2009, 06:55:26 PM »
I have concerns about all grains based on the difficulty of threshing on a small scale.  I wonder how this one fairs - article mentions (more) issues due to extremely small grain size.
Wise selfishness is taking care of everyone else so that they don't bring harm to you.

Wellspring

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2009, 08:02:44 PM »
I have concerns about all grains based on the difficulty of threshing on a small scale.  I wonder how this one fairs - article mentions (more) issues due to extremely small grain size.

I told Atash this in a PM today regarding the labor intensiveness of harvesting grain; especially tiny grain like Teff.  I haven't yet grown grain.  I've been thinking of growing some grains and buckwheat in particular.  However, when I think about space requirements and time threshing vs. other potential "survival crops," I'm not sure if I should.
Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.         ~Marcus Aurelius

Dame

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2009, 10:49:56 PM »
The only sane way to get the quantity of grains that individual families would use is to volunteer to help with harvest somewhere and do it as a crop share.  Storage, cleaning and grinding are not that dificult. 

The Future

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2009, 05:14:02 AM »
The only sane way to get the quantity of grains that individual families would use is to volunteer to help with harvest somewhere and do it as a crop share.  Storage, cleaning and grinding are not that dificult. 

When you say somewhere, you mean "help with harvest somewhere" other than your space?  If so this defeats the purpose (food security, self sufficiency).  As a stop gap measure it is fine but in the long run, I am going to stick with what my family can sustain.  I may grow some grains for sprouting.  I discovered by accident that thresh and all that effort isn't needed to get the sprouts (which makes sense once I thought about how th eplant survives...without a thresher!) 

I think some of us really need to be planning a grain free diet, garden, recipe mix etc. Carbs from Roots and Fruits!
Wise selfishness is taking care of everyone else so that they don't bring harm to you.

Wellspring

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2009, 08:48:05 AM »
I think Future has a very good point in reducing grains or going grain-free and using grains as sprouts which are FAR superior in nutrition AND don't require cooking.  We are getting ready to try our hand at making Mana Bread (raw sprouted bread). 

I did a little digging around the Net regarding grain-free diets.  Check out the info below.  Of course, the important aspect is moderation.  We try to avoid all breads.  When we do eat a type of bread, it's a wrap made from Rice.

Came upon this at Mother Earth News:  "Almost all the grains can be sprouted to make delicious salads in some ways more nutritious than the dried grain. Beans, clover (especially alfalfa), and wheat make the best sprouts for humans, But oats and barley — in addition to wheat — can be sprouted and fed to chickens and livestock as top farmers used to do. With that kind of feed supplement, they could grow healthy animals even in winter without today's expensive all-vitamins-included commercial feed."

Healthy eating - why grains are such a problem - updated October 2007

Grains are a common cause of symptoms, possibly because from an evolutionary point of view they have only recently been introduced into the diet of Homo Sapiens, partly because grains are so widely eaten and people tend to sensitise to foods eaten most often. At a recent medical meeting that I attended, the problems of wheat were discussed at length. I came to the view that wheat and related grains are a problem to eat for many reasons and perhaps as a Nation we should be avoiding them! The main problems arise for several possible reasons.

a) High glycaemic index.

b) Common cause of problems associated with allergy such as fatigue, IBS, migraine, depression, skin disorders, asthma and "candida".

c) They contain lectins - see Lectins - Natural Toxins found in some grains and some vegetables

d) They contain endogenous opiate mimics which may be a problem in susceptibles eg autistics.

e) Most are grown with pesticides and have high levels.

f) Bran is high in phytic acid which binds and inhibits absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc.

g) They are shallow rooting annual plants, often grown year in, year out on the same patch of land. They are markedly deficient in trace elements.

Grains are a major source of carbohydrate and so cause all the problems of eating food with high glycaemic index. Please refer to Hypoglycaemia - Not just about diet and Hypoglycaemia - low blood sugar - a major problem for many people! They are digested in the gut to form sugars which may worsen a hypoglycaemic tendency or feed a yeast overgrowth. There is also a theory that wheat protein (gluten) is digested into short chain proteins which have endogenous opiate like effects (endorphines) and this upsets normal brain chemistry making one lethargic and slow.

However this diet addresses the issue of grain allergy and means no wheat, barley, rye and oat. Because a Western diet is so dependent on grains, especially wheat, this is not easy. A grain free diet is not the same as a gluten free diet. Gluten is simply the protein in grain. Many people reacting to grains have problems with the starch (associated with fatigue) and possibly lectins (associated with muscle pain) in the grain.

In people avoiding grains for reasons of allergy, I leave rice in the diet, but this is a high Glycaemic Index food and should be eaten in moderation.

Wheat
Present in many foods namely bread, flour, biscuits, pastry, pasta, many breakfast cereals, gravy thickeners, sauces, cakes, many sweets, "cheese" biscuits, etc. You also need to avoid bran, wheatgerm, modified starch and monosodium glutamate. Many prepared meats contain wheat, i.e. sausage meat (contains rusk), burgers, fish cakes (breadcrumbs), tinned meats. Cheap coffee often contains wheat or corn products.

Barley
This certainly contains gluten. The main source in a UK diet is in beer and whiskey. Malt (barley sugar) is often used as a sweetener. Pearl barley is sometimes added to stews.

Rye
Rye usually just means no ryvita or pumpernickel (German black bread). Rye contains gluten and is very closely related to wheat and so wheat allergics are often rye sensitive as well. Even if you are not sensitive to rye initially, if you are wheat sensitive then you are likely to acquire sensitivity to rye as well. Rye bread nearly always has some wheat in it.

Oats
Not too difficult to avoid - obviously you have to check ingredients. If you are looking purely for a gluten-free diet then they do contain very tiny amounts of gluten, but the Coeliac Society reckon so little as not to be worth worrying about and recommend its use for coeliac disease. You will just have to suck it and see.

Corn
A difficult one. Corn is widely eaten in the USA and a common allergen there. It is less usual to see corn allergy in UK but perfectly possible. Corn does not contain gluten. Corn is obviously sweetcorn, cornflour, cornflakes, custard powder and corn syrup. It can be used as a glue, for example on postage stamps. It can be used to waterproof cardboard milk cartons.

It usually takes at least 4 weeks to notice any changes as a result of stopping grains, and sometimes up to 6 weeks to see the full benefit. Some people then find they can tolerate gluten free products, but react to 100% wheat.

Alternative Carbohydrate foods
Breakfast - Ideally breakfast should be a low G.I. meal and free from any grains. There are some mueslis based on rice flakes and millet flakes. Look out for tapioca bread and rice cakes.

Lunch - Ideally lunch should just have a small amount of low G.I.food - use potato, such as baked potato, potato cakes, cold potato in salad, rice cake, cold rice.

Supper - One can be a bit more relaxed about the G.I. content of supper! Again use rice and potato, but there are many other useful seeds. Try buckwheat, millet, pulses (these are easiest tinned, such as chick peas, kidney beans, broad beans), sago, tapioca, amaranth seed, sweet potato flour, banana flour, chestnut flour, soya flour etc. Don't forget the root vegetables - parsnip, turnip, swede, carrot etc.

Use arrowroot or rice flour for thickening sauces or gravies.
Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.         ~Marcus Aurelius

The Future

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2009, 01:11:15 PM »
Whoever wrote this has some good points but also seems a bit confused.

"High glycemic index" - most of the referenced grains are quite low.  Basmati brown rice is stable at 55.  Wheat is about 45. Oats are lower and even processed barley is a mind bending 19.  Very very stable for the blood sugar.  Millet - which the article recommends later - is very high (almost as bad as white rice).  Corn is also very high.  White rice? Forget it.

Regarding allergies, I've done quite a bit of research on this and some of it has been traced to bad eating habits namely drinking after/with eating.  In short, your digestive system was designed to allow food to sit for an hour before moving into your "second" stomach.  In principle the RAW food there would virtually digest itself.  (In modern times there is a problem going totally raw but this is another story).  The bad habit of drinking after eating tends to wash undigested food into the second stomach and being undigested, the body sees it as an unrecognizable threat over time and eventually forms agents to attack it when it next appears.  Further, proteins from grains that this happen with have been shown to cause behavioural issues through upsetting brain chemistry (ADD/ADHS and possibly exacerbating autism).


"They are shallow rooting annual plants, often grown year in, year out on the same patch of land. They are markedly deficient in trace elements"

This is a double edged sword.  Corn, wheat, rice form the bulk (80%) of food grown on earth because they are so efficient at extracting nutrients.  This is why sprouts of these items are so super nutritious they are close to grasses and hence can extract the full spectrum (93 elements) from the soil.  [My mantra: It has to be in the soil for the plant to get it out!]  BUt therein lies the rub.  Growing a plant that has tremendous capacity to extract a full range of minerals means after several years of doing this AND not remineralizing the soil....surprise surprise the soil become deficient.

As an aside it is worth noting the there is a conservation of energy type law when it comes to minerals.  They are not being created or destroyed but simply transported in ths case - from one point to another.  In other words, runoff enters the ocean.  And we can get it back.

So the efficiency of the plants can be a blessing and a curse.


"Breakfast - Ideally breakfast should be a low G.I. meal and free from any grains. There are some mueslis based on rice flakes and millet flakes. Look out for tapioca bread and rice cakes"

If GI is the issue then rice and millet are the last items to eat!!  Also, I generally find the researchers into GI seemed to have some prejudice against tropical foods even though science supports them as low GI.  E.g. Miller et al say to avoid mango even though it has a (stable) GI of 55.  What's up with that?


"Lunch - Ideally lunch should just have a small amount of low G.I.food - use potato, such as baked potato, potato cakes, cold potato in salad, rice cake, cold rice."

Again if low GI is the goal rice and potatoes are NOT what you want to eat.  New potatoes are better, sweet potatoes too.  Brown basmati rice but the rest you should throw out.  We really need to redefine the diets we have inherited.  Fruits and roots baby!
Wise selfishness is taking care of everyone else so that they don't bring harm to you.

Dame

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Re: Growing the grain Ethiopian Teff
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2009, 01:36:04 PM »
Future, what you are saying really makes sence given where you live.  There is not a grain farm within easy driving distance.  For people withing relatively easy distance from grain farms, whether they are making arrangements for the farmer to deliver to them or actually doing a share crop with the harvest, requires the same degree of trust and trustworthiness.

There is a labour shortage on most family farms, particularly the ones where there are young adults away taking post secondary education.  If you take your share home with you and store it, I do not see the problem.

In non-tropical countries, meat and grains are a more important part of the diet than in tropical countries.  This is because of the storage requirements and the caloric needs dealing with the cold.  Fruit and vegetables do not really provide the nuturition required for dealing with the cold.  Carbs and fats and concentrated protiens are indiginous and traditional. 

When I look at the problems with GM corn having cross polinated with many if not most non GM corns, and the impending dificuties with cerials and rust (I am not sure if this rust strain is new and traditional rust resistent varieties are suseptible), and the blight problem with potatoes if over concentrated (along with long term storage issues), eliminating grain as a food source for 6 billion people could leave many with no food.