Euronews: Fighting Biopiracy: Ethiopian Businessman Reclaims Teff Cultivation to Preserve Heritage




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Teff, a significant ingredient in Ethiopian cuisine, has become a victim of biopiracy, which is the unethical exploitation of indigenous knowledge and biological resources. Yonas Alemu, an Ethiopian entrepreneur, has taken up the mission to combat this trend through his teff-processing business, Lovegrass Ethiopia.

Yonas Alemu grew up farming teff in Ethiopia and noticed that while teff was gaining popularity abroad, notably in UK supermarkets, not a kilogram was sourced from Ethiopia. He observed this as an instance of biopiracy, where Western nations predominantly benefit at the expense of nations marked by instability, like Ethiopia.

In 2003, a Dutch company controversially patented teff flour, causing an uproar and a subsequent lawsuit by the Ethiopian government which led to the invalidation of the company's license in 2020. However, international regulation on biopiracy is still absent, jeopardizing Ethiopian farmers' abilities to exploit their native crops commercially.

Alemu's company, Lovegrass Ethiopia, is battling these challenges by collaborating with local farmers, providing training, and introducing seed varieties conducive to machine planting. The aim is to enhance production and branding capabilities for farmers, contributing to alleviating poverty in Ethiopia by leveraging the nation’s native crops.

To get a closer look at the production of Teff, the team explored the traditional methods of harvesting teff and even indulged in chechebsa, a traditional Ethiopian dish crafted with teff, giving a flavourful glimpse into the culinary richness of the country.

For more in-depth details on Yonas Alemu's fight against biopiracy and the journey of Teff, read the full article here

A Lovegrass company.

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020 8660 9265

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