Agri Business

Hardy teff rice to take root in India this kharif

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on January 15, 2018

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After chia and quinoa, teff is the new superfood that is set to make an entry into the Indian farm sector, courtesy the Mysuru-based Central Food and Technological Research Institute (CFTRI).

Teff, a drought-resistant rice, is a staple food crop of Ethiopia, and the grain dates back to the Abyssinian civilisation.

“Teff is gluten-free, has high resistant starch, low glycemic load and is rich in essential amino acids,” CFTRI Director Ram Rajasekharan said. “It has a high protein content of around 12-13 per cent, equivalent to the vegetable version of egg whites. It is also rich in micro-nutrients such as calcium, iron and Vitamin C,” he added.

Teff as an ingredient blends well into various foods such as dosa, porridge, roti and gluten-free breads, he said.

“We had brought the seeds from the US Department of Agriculture four years ago and carried out trials in various locations, including areas around Mysuru, parts of Tamil Nadu and in Bagalkot, North Karnataka. Two of the 19 varieties are suitable for Indian conditions. As with chia and quinoa, we plan to give the teff seeds free to farmers,” Rajashekaran said.

CFTRI has partnered with Sri Sri Rural Development Program to extend its efforts to farmers for superfood production and farm gate food processing. CFTRI, which has developed agro-technology to suit Indian conditions for both white and brown varieties of teff grains, plans to have workshops to sensitise farmers and help develop recipes to blend it into traditional Indian foods. It has tied up with the University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, for production of teff seeds.

The upcoming kharif season will see teff being planted in Karnataka, Rajashekaran said, adding that the grain has a potential to yield 200-250 kg per acre. Teff, a hardy crop, can be grown in both kharif and rabi seasons. It is suitable for districts with dry zones in Karnataka. The international wholesale prices of teff are around ₹650-700 a kg, Rajashekaran said.

Teff has been declared a superfood by the United Nations, Rajashekaran said. Superfoods have advanced nutrition profiles that can help improve the health and wellness of the populace. Superfoods can alleviate malnutrition and help improve the health of those suffering from lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

CFTRI, which introduced superfoods such as chia and quinoa in India in recent years, also provides solutions for post-harvest management, food processing, advanced nutrition and allied sciences. “The response from the farming community to chia and quinoa has been good, which has increased their availabity and made them affordable. Growers in UP will be harvesting quinoa this year,” he added.

Published on April 25, 2017

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