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close this bookBetter Farming Series 15 - Cereals (FAO - INADES, 1977, 51 p.)
close this folderOther cereals
View the documentFonio
View the documentFinger millet
View the documentWheat


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 fallow.

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 ripe.

Finger millet

Finger millet (Eleusine) grows to between 60 and 150 centimetres high. It is grown in Zaire, in the Central African Empire, in Rwanda, in Burundi, in Ethiopia, in Kenya, and in Tanzania.

At the top of the stem there are 5 to 10 ears; they are curved and contain the grain.

Finger millet needs plenty of water. It is chiefly grown in hilly regions, on high tablelands.

Finger millet grows well even on poor soil. It is often grown together with other crops such as maize and groundnuts, or after other crops such as cotton.

The ears are harvested by hand and put in bundles to dry. Then they are stored in granaries. The ears store well, and are not attacked by insects.

Finger millet is used for food; flour made from it is cooked. It is also eaten in the form of paste. Some kinds of finger millet are used for making beer.


Wheat is a cereal that is chiefly grown in cold countries. Flour is made from wheat and is used for making bread. In Africa, especially in towns, people eat more and more bread. Until now, African countries bought wheat or wheat flour from foreign countries. But that is costly. It is better, when possible, to produce the wheat needed for food.

In Africa, wheat is grown in regions where there is a very cold season, that is:

· on the edge of the desert, near rivers and lakes:
· in Mauritania and Senegal, along the Senegal river; in Mali and Niger, along the Niger river;
· in Chad, near Lake Chad;
· in mountainous and hilly regions such as:
· eastern Zaire;
· Rwanda and Burundi.

Some countries, such as Chad, are making a great effort to develop wheat growing. This is being done chiefly in the Lake Chad region which will soon be able to meet all the ccuntry's needs of wheat. Chad will no longer have to import wheat.