Tef, a staple food for 50 million of the estimated 80 million population of Ethiopia, is a tiny-seeded cereal crop that is used to make injera, a spongy pancake widely consumed. The crop is versatile in its adaptation, with good resilience to both low and high moisture stresses, high value as a cash crop (the grain is prized and the straw is valued as a high-quality animal fodder), and minimal pre- and post-harvest losses due to diseases and pests. However, due to the localized importance of tef, global research and development on this crop is highly limited in comparison to other cereal crops.
Since 1994, the McKnight Foundation has supported tef research, which led to the development and release of three improved tef varieties. Several important research and development challenges remain to be resolved for tef. These include low productivity, lodging (the displacement of crops from their vertical position, i.e. wind or rain damage), labor-intensive agronomic practices, poor seed quality, poor national seed systems, and weak research-extension linkages and systems. The present study intends to extend the achievements of the previous tef program to the intended beneficiaries, integrate genetic and agronomic practices to improve tef productivity and production and combat lodging. The goal of the proposed project is to increase the productivity and production of tef, and thereby contribute to improved livelihood and food security in Ethiopia.