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Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I, Grains
prospects for raising its production seem good, substantial increases will probably occur only after its labor requirements are reduced.
Tef may also come to benefit other African countries, notably some that today face food-production problems. The plant's resistance to diseases, pests, and heavy soils give it special appeal.
Several of tef's relatives are valued forages in the world's arid zones,6 and tef itself might also have a future as a fodder. Indeed, in southern Africa it is already used extensively, having originally fed the horses and oxen of the Boer War almost a century ago. Tef hay is of such quality that South African farmers prefer it over all others for feeding, their dairy cattle, sheep, and horses (see page 230).
Moreover, this grass is exciting South Africans as a "quick fix" for holding down bare soil and thereby baffling erosion while more permanent ground covers establish themselves.
Prospects probably low. For Africa's humid areas, tef's prospects are unknown because trials have not been conducted (or at least not reported). However, the crop comes from a relatively dry environment and probably has little or no potential in a hot and steamy one.7
Good prospects. Tef is a reliable cereal for unreliable climates, especially those with dry seasons of unpredictable occurrence and length.
Good prospects. Most of Ethiopia's tef is produced at moderate elevations, but it has long been common on the high plateau and is being slowly introduced to higher and higher locations. Its future contribution to the rural economy of these and other African highlands appears to be substantial.
Tef holds promise for many countries beyond Africa. Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Australia might well adopt it. In addition, this plant's rapid maturity and inherent cold tolerance may open new areas of grain cultivation for high latitudes where growing seasons are short—Canada, Alaska, the Soviet Union,
These are usually called "love grasses" as reflected in the botanic name, which is derived from Eros (god of love) and grostis (grass). Weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula), from southern Africa, is widely planted in the southwestern United States, for example.
It is true that it is grown even in Ethiopia's Ilubabor province where the rainfall is very high, but mostly on steep slopes that quickly shed the runoff.