Ethiopian staples

Strengthening staple crop production in Ethiopia

Teff is a staple grain in Ethiopia, and one that is rich in essential amino acids, complex carbohydrates and minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper, aluminum and barium. The grain is attractive to farmers because it is a key ingredient in injera, a type of bread that is a mainstay in the Ethiopian diet. Teff has high market value, and is resistant to pests and adaptable to drought.

Despite the great significance of the grain to Ethiopians, the crop’s average yield has remained low. In the last year, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we implemented Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs) in Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region to help farmers learn about and adopt new practices for cultivating teff — such as reducing seeding rates — that will result in much higher yields without the need for expensive inputs. With training and facilitation support from Farm Radio International, radio stations worked closely with farmers and farmer organizations, agricultural extension and advisory services, researchers and others to carefully plan and deliver multi-month radio campaigns. Our research showed that the PRCs were effective in raising awareness and knowledge about improved technologies for planting teff and driving the adoption of these practices.

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