Grains of The Gambia: Hungry rice or Findi

Digitaria exilis is called findi or fonio in one of the local languages of The Gambia. Findi is a grass species. It is a cereal crop that has been grown in the savannah of West Africa for many cen-turies. It has small grains, and this is why it got one of its names - hungry rice. It is also known as white fonio, fonio millet or acha rice.

It can improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable use of the land. It is a crop that can grow in semi-arid areas with poor soil. It is also the fastest-growing cereal in the world that reach maturity in eight weeks.

Despite its valuable characteristics and widespread cultivation, fonio has generally received lim-ited attention in research and development, which is also why the species is sometimes referred to as an underutilized crop. Its small grain makes it hard for the husk to be removed. When doing it manually, findi grains are pounded with sand. Later the seeds and the sand are separated. A simple machine has been invented to dehusk the findi mechanically.
The grain is a leading staple food in The Gambia. It can be cooked as porridge and served for breakfast. Many ethnic groups serve findi as a side dish with Domoda or stew. It is a great re-placement for rice. Moreover, it is included in projects to eradicate hunger in the Gambia.
Findi can be seen in The Gambia all year round. It is cultivated at the beginning of the rainy sea-son in villages like Wulli, east villages and the Upper River Region (URR) villages. Nevertheless, larger amounts are still being imported from countries like Guinea Conakry and Ghana every year.

You can buy findi at any of the main markets in The Gambia; Serekunda market, Brikama market or Banjul market. It can also be seen in all local wholesale shops. One kilo of findi costs about GMD 100 to GMD 200.

The cereal is very nutritious, naturally gluten-free. It contains a good amount of dietary fibre, pro-teins, minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also contains vitamins like fo-lic acid and vitamin B3. It is low in calories, fat and sodium.

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