Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Korean Buckwheat Starts Green Revolution in Ethiopia

Korea's hardy buckwheat could lead a "green revolution" in Ethiopia, one of Africa's poorest nations.

Chuncheon Vice Mayor Kim Jin-guk said Tuesday the country, which receives about US$2 billion in foreign aid a year and is battling famine after famine, has started full-scale research into the drought-resistant grain. “Ethiopia's Institute of Agricultural Research planted 40 kilograms of buckwheat seeds sent by Chuncheon City in six test cultivation spots in February and is waiting for its first harvest in June," he said.

Kim, just back from a week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, a sister city of Chuncheon, said the institute discovered varieties of wild buckwheat in Ethiopia similar to Korea's and is thinking of planting them for food.

"Tef", the staple crop of Ethiopia, is about one-third the size of hulled millet, and roughly the same dark brown color as buckwheat. The "enjera" bread made from ground and griddled tef is very similar to Korean buckwheat pancakes or “memiljeon.” But since buckwheat grain is 20 times the size of tef, Ethiopians hope area yields of the crop will also be that much greater.

Ethiopia was the only African nation to send troops during the Korean War. A total of 6,037 Ethiopian soldiers served in the mountainous central-eastern regions of the country, where 123 were killed and 536 wounded.


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