The East African “Miracle Grain” That Could Become The Next Quinoa

Roberto A. Ferdman | Quartz | March 4, 2014

There’s a huge business opportunity hiding in the fields of East Africa.

Teff, a golden, wheat-like grain, has quinoa-like potential. It’s gluten-free, and boasts all kinds of highly marketable health traits that have made quinoa such a hit in countries like the United States: high in calcium, protein, iron, and amino acids. Teff even helps keep blood sugar levels steady, making it ideal for diabetics.

“Many people consider teff to be a super-food,” Khalid Bomba, CEO of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency, told Ugandan newspaper New Vision.

Ethiopia is swimming in the stuff. About a fifth of the nation’s harvested land is dedicated to harvesting teff, and the government wants to double production of the grain by 2015. Locally, it’s used to make a popular flatbread called injera. Between 2001 and 2007, teff accounted for over 11% of Ethiopian calorie intake (pdf).

But teff is also similar to quinoa in another, more problematic respect, which has complicated the grain’s growth. [...]