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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.