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The Horn of Africa provides high-quality Ethiopia caraway seeds for the local and external markets. Family Growers contribute a considerable amount of the national production of the seeds. They are predominantly exported in whole, raw form.


Ethiopia Caraway Seed ((Trachyspermum Ammi) is one of the essential spices in the country. Its use is widespread, and it is rare to miss it in any market nationally. It is not only grown as a garden crop but also a field crop. Subsistence farmers extensively produce caraway. A total of 90,959 hectares of land in Ethiopia are estimated to be under spice production. Over 10,000 hectares of the total area is covered by black cumin and caraway. In 2017 figures showed that the Amhara region produced 56.9% of Ethiopia’s total caraway seeds.

The origin of caraway seeds is linked to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. However, research conducted by one Walter William Skeat shows it was first domesticated in Arab, and its English name came along in 1440. The spice later spread to other parts of the world including Ethiopia.

It is characterized by it is a straight appearance, and it grows up to 0.6 m tall. It is often with confused with cumin seeds due to their similarity in appearance and in some cuisines it substitutes the latter. Nonetheless, what makes it distinctive to cumin is its darker color, smooth texture and the fact that it is slightly curved. Generally, the seed is pungent, nutty-flavored spice.

Production Centers

Caraway production in the Horn of Africa is extensively conducted in Bale, Gondar, Shewa, Gojam, and Eritrea areas. The growers in those regions cultivate it primarily as a field crop.

Other areas where it takes place is in Mersa and the North Wollo administrative Zone of Amhara region which produces most of Ethiopia’s Caraway seeds.

Forms of Exported Seeds

Raw caraway is the main exported form of the pulse. However, it is availed to the export markets in two forms that include:

Broken seeds: usually fragmented but still wholesome in content.

Not broken seeds: They are made up of clean and intact seeds.

Growing conditions

A majority of caraway seeds cultivated in Ethiopia are the indigenous varieties. Nonetheless, the government and the private sector have over the years made it easier for family and large-scale growers to access improved cultivar breeds. The main reason for encouraging the use of new seeds is due to their unique abilities. These seeds perform better in Ethiopia’s adverse weather conditions and are pest-resistance. Varieties of Ethiopia’s caraway seeds go up to 40 distinct types.

Caraway thrives in ordinary soils when it is partially wet and moist soils in areas covered with shade or the tropical sun. But it is essential the lands have a proper drainage system to avoid cases of the plant rotting.

It grows in yearly rainfall ranging between 1500 mm -2200 mm.


It serves multiple purposes including acting as an essential oilseed. The locals use it to generate income. Ethiopia also uses it to bake a local bread called Defo Dabo popular as Giant Ethiopia Bread. On top of that, it makes stews, grills, and soup.

Its medicinal uses range from acting as an ingredient in cough remedies, enhancing breast milk flow in nursing mothers while the locals chew it raw to relieve indigestion immediately. Oil that comes from the seeds is used to make tea which serves as a stomachic and treats flatulent colic.


Caraway growing takes time. The spice is a biennial plant. In the first year, it develops vegetatively before developing seeds in the upcoming season.

Harvesting & Cleaning

Growers use hand means to harvest caraway seeds. The exercise begins when the seeds manifest a rich, deep brown color. They are also dry thus they fall on collection papers place below. They are then placed on a paper bag to dry before undergoing threshing. Storage depends on whether it is the green leaves or dry seeds that are being stored. The latter are stored in airtight containers where they can last for months while the leaves are placed in refrigerators. Here they can go unspoiled for several weeks and are also usually wrapped with plastic paper bags.

Packing & Export

Ethiopia caraway is directed to the export market in two packed forms. One involves raw broken or whole seeds put in gunny bags. The other one is in oil form. The oil is channeled into the market inside PET bottles, cantor containers or tins or PET bottles. Measurements vary from 250 ml, 1 l, to 15 l.

Shipping takes place in Addis Ababa, and it’s done by air.

Caraway storage conditions do not exceed 18 degrees Celsius. Storage facilities are thoroughly cleaned to get rid of any dirt and extend the seeds shelf life. Moisture content is maintained at 6 percent with the humidity standing at 50 percent. Generally, the place has to be cool, dry and without any pests particularly weevils. In return, it can store for up to 60 months unspoiled.


Caraway is among Ethiopia’s most essential oilseeds. The quality of caraway produced in the country is in a class of its own due to its robust quality. The government continues to invest more in its production with its main aim being to ensure Ethiopia Caraway becomes one of the most sort-after seeds globally. Selinawamucii helps you source Ethiopia Caraway seeds and ensures they reach you wherever you are situated across the globe.

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