Teff is a plant endemic to Ethiopia, and the grain is used to make the spongy fermented ”pancake” bread that Ethiopians eat with their meal .
“Teff (Eragrostis Tef) is a cereal crop of Poaceae or Gramineae family with small grains. It is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC . Teff seeds were reported to be discovered in a pyramid which is thought to date back to 3359 BC . It is a primarily cultivated cereal crop in Ethiopia with high market price and socio-economic values. Its center of origin and diversity is Ethiopia” (…) “The cultivation of teff as a major cereal crop in Ethiopia was started thousands of years ago. As mentioned in the Introduction, some researchers have indicated that teff production in Ethiopia has a history of more than 4000 years. Teff is a primarily cultivated cereal crop in Ethiopia with high market price and socio-economic values” (Daba, 2017).
A Dutch company in 2005 unilaterally secured patent rights over Teff products in the Netherlands, and got registered the patent rights of the grain in different countries in which 5 European countries are ready to recognize it.
Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office Acting Director Ermias Yemenebirane for his part said that European countries don’t know the fact that teff is an Ethiopian treasure; rather they recognize it as one food type of a Netherlands Company. The company is changing its name from time to time and gain patent right in some European countries to produce teff product, he adds.
He recommended the cancelation of the patent right, which the company gained in a cunning way in the first place, so that Ethiopia reclaim it as it is the origin of the grain. For this to happen, using negotiation, public campaign and patent right laws system is essential, he indicated.
Teff – being a gluten-amino acid free grain – is in high demand in the world. Experts have been urging Ethiopia to utilize the opportunity and benefit from the world market by ensuring its patent right