Fonio or White fonio (Digitaria exilis) is a cereal crop grown in the savannas of West Africa. It has very small seeds and is therefore one of the cereals that are called “millets”. Sometimes it is called “hungry rice”. The seeds are used to prepare porridge, couscous, bread, and for brewing beer.
Fonio is a very fast growing crop. It can reach maturity within eight weeks. It is suitable for semi-arid areas with poor soils.
A related species Digitaria iburua is called Black fonio.
Basic information and facts
Savanna areas in West Africa (Cape Verde, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, Nigeria)
Annual, biennial, or perennial:
The grains are oblong to globose-ellipsoid. They are about 0.5 mm long, with white to pale brown or purplish color.
Climate and weather:
Fonio can be cultivated in semi-arid climates.
Fonio is a grass up to 80 cm tall.
Grown from seed.
Harvested by hand.
Grains are used to make bread, porridge, couscous and to prepare beer. The straw and chaff can be used as fodder.