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Teff or tef (Eragrostis tef, Amharic ጤፍ ṭēff, Tigrinya ጣፍ ṭāff) is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass native to the northern Ethiopian Highlands of northeastern Africa. It has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing some protein and calcium. It has a sour taste. It is similar to millet and quinoa in cooking, but the seed is much smaller.

Teff is an important food grain in Ethiopia and Eritrea, where it is used to make injera, and less so in India and Australia. Because of its small seeds (less than 1 mm diameter), one can hold enough to sow an entire field in one hand. This property makes teff particularly suited to a seminomadic lifestyle.

Common names include teff, lovegrass, annual bunch grass (English); Ṭeff/Ṭéff (Amharic, both representing the same sound); Ṭaffi/xaffi (oromo, both representing the same sound); Ṭaff (Tigrinya); and mil éthiopien (French). It is also written as ttheff, tteff, thaff, tcheff, and thaft (Anon. 1887). The word “tef” is connected by folk etymology to the EthioSemitic root “ṭff”, which means “lost” (because of the small size of the grain).

Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. Genetic evidence points to E. pilosa as the most likely wild ancestor.[1] A 19th century identification of teff seeds from an ancient Egyptian site is now considered doubtful; the seeds in question (no longer available for study) are more likely of E. aegyptiaca, a common wild grass in Egypt (Germer 1985).

It is adapted to environments ranging from drought stress to waterlogged soil conditions. Maximum teff production occurs at altitudes of 1800 to 2100 m, growing season rainfall of 450 to 550 mm, and a temperature range of 10 to 27 °C. Teff is day length sensitive and flowers best with 12 hours of daylight.

Teff has been widely cultivated and used in the countries of Ethiopia, India and its colonies, and Australia. Teff accounts for about a quarter of total cereal production in Ethiopia.[2] The grain has a high concentration of different nutrients, a very high calcium content, and high levels of phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. A big advantage, the iron from teff is easily absorbed by the body. Teff is high in protein. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition (including all 8 essential amino acids for humans) and has lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Because of this variety, it stimulates the flora of the large intestine. Teff is high in carbohydrates and fiber. It contains no gluten, so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

Interest in new crops has led some Dutch farmers to cultivate teff. In 2003, 150 farmers were growing it. By the estimation of the company involved (Soil & Crop Improvement BV), in 2006 there could be 50 km² of this African grain in the Netherlands.