fonio (Digitaria exilis, white fonio, and D. iburua, black) is also called acha in N. Nigeria. In English it is called ‘hungry rice’. It has long grown on the savannahs of W. Africa, especially in parts of Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria, and is an important resource both for its flavour (claimed to be superior to rice), its nutritiousness, and its short growing cycle, producing grain in 6–8 weeks from seed. It is made into a porridge, or into couscous, combined with other flours for bread, and used for beer. Its short growing season and capacity to withstand semi-arid conditions has increased its dietary significance. Another Digitaria, cruciatia var. esculenta is grown in the Khasi hills of north-east India, where it is called raisha and used for a porridge or in bread.


  1. Reading National Research Council, vol. 1 (1996).