Fonio is a powerful, ancient super grain that has been grown in a number of West African cultures for over five thousand years. It’s come into the spotlight recently thanks to its moreish flavor, as well as its powerful health benefits.
Fonio, white fonio, fundi, hungry rice, hungry millet, fundi millet, petit mil, hungry, acha
Fonio is cultivated to a limited extent mostly in West Africa on intermediate elevations or plateaus having somewhat more favorable rainfall and heavier soil s than the surrounding savannah. Nowadays, fonio grows in farmers’ fields over a vast area extending from Senegal to Chad. The nutritive quality of fonio grain is quite high from analysis of protein fractions. White fonio is called ‘acha’ or ‘hungry rice ‘(Digitaria exilis Staph) and black one is called iburu (Digitaria iburua). This small grass, which reaches heights of 30 - 80 cm, is very robust and can resist periods of droughts and heavy rains and matures in 70-150 days, depending on the variety. The fonio proteins are rich in the essential amino acid methionine, unlike other cereals. Like other millets, fonio has several proven health benefits including in preventing and managing diabetes. Fonio has a short growing season and is well adjusted to harsh environments. The cereal has excellent culinary and nutritional properties.