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Ethiopia cumin is popular in the local and export markets. The raw fresh Ethiopia cumin seeds come from family growers in the country.
Produce & origin
Also known as kalonji, Ethiopia cumin or black cumin (Nigella sativa) is one of the most identifiable oilseeds from the horn of Africa country. Ethiopia exported cumin seeds in the not ground form worth $2.4 million in 2017. The pulse is so essential that it comes only second to pepper among the most used spices in the nation. Locals use it to spice bread after grinding the dark-colored seeds into powder. It also lends a distinctive taste to vegetable soups, chocolate products, and cakes. Its medicinal uses range from adding a pleasant smell to drugs to sterilizing medical devices and making plastic gear. The seeds are a common find in local market day sales across the agricultural belt from Shewa to Addis Ababa.
In appearance, the black cumin plant is slender, relatively short and hardy. At 20 to 30 centimeters tall, it bears whitish or bluish, finely divided leaves that are medium rather than thin. The crop has showy petals with flower-and-seed forming pistils at the top. The pistils usually are bright green or yellow. These features have made the plant survive anywhere even in dry areas, explaining its origin in the arid regions of either Egypt or southwest Asia. The tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt has the remains of the seed.
Sources & Growing Conditions
The locals call blackseed Tiqure Azemude in Amharic. It is a commonplace in many home gardens in Shewa in the Southern Nations, Nationalities & Peoples Region. Most family growers cultivate it in abandon as a backfield crop for subsistence next to other greens. The plant prefers light but fertile soil, and for this reason, it is easy to grow almost everywhere, even in the wild. The principal growing co-ordinates in the country are in the Rift Valley in the south where the elevations range from 1500 to 2500 meters above sea level.
Exported Forms, Category & Uses
There are three forms of Ethiopia cumin. These include ground, ‘not ground’ and oil forms. They all come from the black seed or kalonji, which is the main cumin type in the country. Almost all seeds are exported in the ‘not ground’ form. Oil and ground alternatives account for the rest of the bulk. The ground form is known as habachia in Amharic and is mostly available in 100-gram packets. The oil is a product of mechanical cold pressing and comes 100 percent unadulterated.
The most common uses of Ethiopia cumin outside spicing is in medicine. Traditionally, people have used its oil extract as an antiseptic the same way as a lemon. The residents of Shewa use the oil droplets as an appetizer, diarrhea treatment, and even worm-eradicating potion. Its melanin extract is a cure for skin conditions.
Post-harvesting Handling & Packing
The harvesting of the seeds takes place mostly at dawn to ensure high moisture and oil concentration. Every packed Ethiopia cumin seed has the internationally recommended oil content of 36 percent, which is the peak or the best quality. This is why the only seeds that go into export are fresh and lowly dried as these have high moisture and oil proportions. Grading itself is a testament of quality guarantee as the seeds reach the market well cleaned with a purity level of above 99.9 percent. The packages of the wholesome grains come in 50-kilo packets though there are flexible packages of just 15 kilos apiece. There are also gunny bags of 20 kilos with cool, film-lined interiors. The ground seeds are marketed in minimal sachets of only 100 grams apiece. In case the seeds are processed, the resulting oil comes in 5-liter jerrycans with 100 percent cold pressed content. Storage and handling take place in the cold room at 5 degrees Celsius or below.
In short, Ethiopia cumin seeds rank as some of the most popular spices in the horn of Africa for their quality and multipurpose uses. The seeds grow in the country under Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) conditions.
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