Workinesh Denda inspects hand-made stoves in a shop in Ganta Kanachama, southern Ethiopia, September 30, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Elias Gebreselassie

JOHANNESBURG - Ethiopia could increase production of its gluten-free and nutrient-rich cash crop teff, and tap into the expanding domestic and international markets, by ramping up investments in basic research; adopting new and better technologies; improving input distribution systems; and extending markets, according to a new book.

The book, "The Economics of Teff: Exploring Ethiopia’s Biggest Cash Crop", was launched by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday

“Teff makes a considerable contribution to Ethiopians’ incomes and food security, and has potential to provide still greater benefits,” said Bart Minten, senior researcher, IFPRI, and co-editor of the book.

“Expanding markets would create opportunities for both current and new producers and suppliers.”

Ethiopian teff production and marketing systems face five challenges, including improving productivity and resilience; selecting and scaling up modern technologies; establishing distribution systems adapted to different areas’ needs; managing labour demand and post-harvest operations; and increasing access to larger and more diverse markets.

The book examines the potential of teff to improve food security and reduce poverty; and provides recommendations on increasing production and expanding markets to benefit farmers and consumers.

Teff, a hardy and relatively low-risk crop, contributes considerably to the income of many agricultural producers, particularly that of poor smallholders.

It accounts for 22 percent of cultivated area in the country, and an estimated 43 percent of country’s farmers, all of whom are smallholder farmers, are involved in its production, according to 2013-14 data.

For consumers, teff accounts for as much as 12 percent of all food expenditures, making it the leading food crop in the consumption basket of many households.

- African News Agency (ANA)