Fonio is a short cereal, about 45 centimetres high. It yields
very small grains.
Fonio is chiefly grown in savanna regions of west Africa, such
as Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Upper Volta, Niger.
Fonio grows and ripens quickly. It can be harvested long before
millet or sorghum. Thus, the inhabitants of savanna regions who have no millet
or sorghum during the hungry season can eat fonio.
Fonio grows well even on poor soil. It is much grown in certain
mountainous regions such as Fouta Djallon in Guinea, and on soils with a little
laterite in Upper Volta and Mali. It is a plant that needs very little water to
grow well. It is grown on very dry and poor soils.
Fonio should be sown at the end of a rotation, just before the
Fonio fields must be protected from birds that eat the grain.
Harvesting fonio is difficult, because the grain is very small.
Much grain can be lost in harvesting. Do not wait until the grain is too