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CSIR-CFTRI set to unveil whole grain cereal crop teff to Indian farmers
Saturday, 10 September, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysuru, is gearing up to launch teff (Eragrostis tef), a whole grain cereal crop.

The institute, which has transformed the country’s food plate by developing agro-technology for superfoods to grow in Indian conditions, had earlier introduced chia and quinoa to Indian agri-farms have added to farmers’ incomes and also improved the accessibility to these superfoods at an affordable cost to the country’s population.

The crop research team was led by Ram Rajasekharan, director, CSIR-CFRTI, and supported by L Prasanna Anjenya Reddy and Ramesh Kumar.

Teff is a whole grain cereal crop native to Ethiopia. It gained media attention as a food most winning Olympians have been eating.

“It has a wonderful nutrition profile. It is gluten-free, low in glycemic load and rich in micronutrients, including calcium, iron and Vitamin C. The protein is well balance with all amino acids and is easily digestible,” said Rajasekharan.

“A large part of the protein is albumen, so it is a vegetarian version of egg white in its nutrition profile,” he added.

“The cereal is a great choice for those who are training for endurance activities and is also excellent for diabetes management,” said Rajasekharan.

“Teff’s gluten-free property makes it a good choice for those suffering from celiac disease. It is a source of nutrition from paediatrics to geriatrics,” he added.

Rajasekharan stated that it had the potential to reduce malnutrition in children, supported the growth needs of adolescents and helped provide improved wellness in adult populations.

The whole grain cereal crop is a blessing for areas with poor rainfall. It is a hardy dry land crop and provides a reasonably good yield even in harsh environments, marginal soils and drought-like conditions.

It can be cultivated in both kharif/rainy (June and July) and rabi/winter (October to December) seasons.

There are no reported pests that harm the crop. However, as a prophylactic measure natural pest control agents like neem oil spray can be applied during growth.

The crop needs timely harvesting and both cultivation and post-harvest handling is reasonable easy. About 250-300kg per acre is the average yield expected.

Teff extends itself well into our traditional food products. It is a unique cereal that can be used to make dosa as well as baked as bread.

The traditional Ethiopian dish injera is made of teff, whose bland taste and flexible functionality helps seamlessly blend the grain into traditional Indian foods.

“The import cost of Teff is quite high, as is the case with chia and quinoa. The institute’s contribution would result in a higher availability of the product at an affordable cost across the nation with the immediate harvest after the seeds are released to farmers,” said Rajasekharan.
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