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As Demand For Teff Soars, Ethiopia Struggles With Some Major Problems

April 25, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Worldwide demand for teff, an Ethiopian staple grain touted as a new superfood, has made the commodity almost prohibitively expensive for indigenous Ethiopians, and has caused major problems for Ethiopia itself. The flat round bread known as injera, made from teff, used to cost $0.02, now $0.19, putting a strain on the 29 percent of the population that live on $2 a day. Fewer people dine out, many skip breakfast, eating only a midmorning snack, then an injera-based meal later. The Ethiopian government walks a tightrope, trying to meet burgeoning global demand for native teff – grown by 6,000 farmers – while feeding its own people. Compounding the problem: teff remains a low-yield crop, thanks to a lack of research, and a consequent reliance on ancient farming methods. Though teff is grown worldwide, the Ethiopian variety is considered the best.
James Jeffrey, "Global craving for ancient Ethiopian grain offers opportunities, pitfalls", Aljazeera America, April 25, 2015, © Al Jazeera America, LLC.
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