Fonio is reported as the oldest West African cereal dating back to 5000 BC. (Purseglove, J.W. 1975). It is popularly known as Acha in Nigeria. It comes in two different variants: Acha Digitaria exilis Kippis Stapf and Acha Digitaria Iburua Kippis Stapf.
Cultivation of Fonio
It is resistant to drought.
Generally, Fonio grains grow to maturity in 5 to 7 months.
However, special varieties produce grains just 6 or 8 weeks after they are planted.
A mix of normal and fast-growing varieties ensure all year round availability.
It tolerates remarkably poor soil and will grow where little else succeeds
Uses of Fonio
Made into porridge and couscous
Ground and mixed with other flours to make bread
Brewed for beer
A good substitute for semolina – the wheat product used to make spaghetti and other pastas
It is a valuable feed for monogastric animals, notably pigs and poultry.
Limitations of Fonio
Processing could be very time consuming due to separation of sand from the grains.
Poor agronomic performance as a result of unimproved seeds and husbandry practices.
Nutritional Benefits of Fonio
Fonio is a good source of Protein.
It offers an impressive variety of essential amino acids such as; phenylalanine, glycine, glutamate/glutamine, proline, leucine, methionine and cysteine.
The methionine level in fonio has been found to be twice of that found in egg protein.
Fonio has a much lower Glycaemic index compared to other major grains.
It’s impact on blood sugar levels is significantly less. Thus, it is ideal for diabetics and cardiovascular patients.
IT IS GLUTEN-FREE
Production of Fonio
Nigeria is currently the second largest producers of Fonio in the world with an average production of 76,506 tonnes between 1994 and 2018.
Sources of Fonio:
Sources of Fonio
It is produced in the Northern part of Nigeria. The following cities are the major hubs:
Plateau, Bauchi, Kaduna, niger, Nassarawa, Kebbi and Abuja.