Fonio (Digitaria exilis ) is grown in West Africa for centuries. For a long time, it was of marginal importance as a cereal due to its small seeds, but is now the object of renewed interest as consumers begin to recognize its flavour and nutritional qualities. Research is under way with a view to mechanizing several processing stages, to better promote it on local urban markets or export to Europe or the United States.
Fonio field in Fouta Djalon (Guinea)
This site was set up by the Cirad (UMR QualiSud ), in conjunction with various Research Institutes of West Africa or others partners from Southern countries. It mainly addresses stakeholders involved in the cereal commodity chain, but also anyone else with an interest in special crops, sometimes neglected, but playing an important part in food diversity .
At the beginning of the 2000s, studies on improving fonio postharvest technologies were conducted within the framework of a first project funded by the CFC (Common Fund for Commodities) and supervised by the FAO. More recently, the research on upgrading quality and competitiveness of fonio for improved livelihoods in West Africa was financed by European Union (see INCO Fonio ).
In 2012, a new project “Aval Fonio ” has been signed with the African Union (Financed by the European Development Fund). Coordinated by Cirad, it is carried out in partnership with five African countries: Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Burundi.
The book Le fonio, une céréale africaine was published by QUAE editions in 2011.