A rare, ancient grain
A rare ancient grain, prized for its flavor, easy digestibilty, gluten freedom and tolerance by diabetics, Fonio (Digitaria exilis, Digitaria ibura) is in the millet family, and is grown on poor soils already tired from the other crop cycles of years passed.
Fonio has a low glycæmic index and is rich in amino acids, especially methionine and cystine, among many nutritional properties superior to most other grains.
Fonio just so happens to be prominent right in Atacora's home around Boukombé, Benin!
Fonio starts out looking like a nice, green lawn, and at maturity looks a lot like hay. The seeds are less than a millimeter long and half as wide, and have a husk, necessitating some pretty serious work to make it ready to eat. Harvest is done BY HAND with HOMEMADE KNIVES. Harvesters make sheaves and set them to dry. They construct a platform where adolescents stomp the sheaves to remove the grain. It is then winnowed in traditional flat basketry. Prior to cooking, women pound the grain in traditional wooden mortars to remove the husks, and winnow again. The grain is then washed tree times to remove and sand, redried and cooked.