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Paspalum exile Kippist
White fonio (Digitaria exilis)
White fonio (D. exilis), also called "hungry rice," is the most important of a diverse group of wild and domesticated Digitaria species that are harvested in the savannas of West Africa. Fonio has the smallest seeds of all species of millet. It has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable use of the land.
Fonio has continued to be important locally because it is both nutritious and one of the world's fastest growing cereals, reaching maturity in as little as six to eight weeks. It is a crop that can be relied on in semi-arid areas with poor soils, where rains are brief and unreliable. The grains are used in porridge and couscous, for bread, and for beer.
Some regions in which this crop is important are the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea, the Akposso area of Togo and Central Nigeria. In Togo, fonio (called ɔva) is primarily a women's crop; it and cowpeas are used to make a traditional dish.
The small grains make it difficult and time-consuming to remove the husk. Traditional methods include pounding it in a mortar with sand (then separating the grains and sand) or "popping" it over a flame and then pounding it (which yields a toasted color grain; this technique is used among the Akposso). The invention of a simple fonio husking machine offers an easier mechanical way to dehusk.
Black fonio (Digitaria iburua)
According to the mythology of the Dogon people of Mali, among whom it is known as pō tolo, the supreme creator of the universe, Amma, made the entire universe by exploding a single grain of fonio, located inside the "egg of the world".
- Christian Seignobos and Henry Tourneux, Le Nord-Cameroun à travers ses mots: Dictionnaire de termes anciens et modernes: Province de l'extrême-nord (KARTHALA Editions, 2002; ISBN 2845862458), p. 107.
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- Kuta, Danladi Dada; Kwon-Ndung, Emmanuel; Dachi, Stephen; Ukwungwu, Mark; Imolehin, Emmanuel Dada (December 2003). "Potential role of biotechnology tools for genetic improvement of "lost crops of Africa": the case of fonio (Digitaria exilis and Digitaria iburua)". African Journal of Biotechnology 2 (12): 580–585. ISSN 1684-5315.
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