Technology generation to dissemination: lessons learned from the tef improvement project

Federico Martinelli, Solomon Chanyalew, Firew Mekbib, Muluneh Tamiru, Habte Jifar, Korinna Esfeld, Annett Weichert, Abate Bekele, Rizqah Kamies, Naomi Nakayama, Regula Blösch, Ermias Abate, Shimelis Hussein, Ian Barker, Sonia Plaza-Wüthrich, Federico Martinelli, Abiel Rindisbacher, Moritz Jöst, Suhail Rafudeen, Mike RobinsonKidist Tolosa, Brikti Ferede, Negussu Husein, Hans Christian Pedersen, Dominik Klauser, Wuyan Wang, Victoria Johnson-Chadwick, Worku Kebede, Yazachew Genet, Kidu Gebremeskel, Abate Bekele, Shimelis Hussein, Gina Cannarozzi, Kebebew Assefa, Samuel Zeeman, Zerihun Tadele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous crops also known as orphan crops are key contributors to food security, which is becoming increasingly vulnerable with the current trend of population growth and climate change. They have the major advantage that they fit well into the general socio-economic and ecological context of developing world agriculture. However, most indigenous crops did not benefit from the Green Revolution, which dramatically increased the yield of major crops such as wheat and rice. Here, we describe the Tef Improvement Project, which employs both conventional- and molecular-breeding techniques to improve tef—an orphan crop important to the food security in the Horn of Africa, a region of the world with recurring devastating famines. We have established an efficient pipeline to bring improved tef lines from the laboratory to the farmers of Ethiopia. Of critical importance to the long-term success of this project is the cooperation among participants in Ethiopia and Switzerland, including donors, policy makers, research institutions, and farmers. Together, European and African scientists have developed a pipeline using breeding and genomic tools to improve the orphan crop tef and bring new cultivars to the farmers in Ethiopia. We highlight a new variety, Tesfa, developed in this pipeline and possessing a novel and desirable combination of traits. Tesfa’s recent approval for release illustrates the success of the project and marks a milestone as it is the first variety (of many in the pipeline) to be released.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture

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    Martinelli, F., Chanyalew, S., Mekbib, F., Tamiru, M., Jifar, H., Esfeld, K., Weichert, A., Bekele, A., Kamies, R., Nakayama, N., Blösch, R., Abate, E., Hussein, S., Barker, I., Plaza-Wüthrich, S., Martinelli, F., Rindisbacher, A., Jöst, M., Rafudeen, S., ... Tadele, Z. (2018). Technology generation to dissemination: lessons learned from the tef improvement project. Euphytica, 214, 1-20.