Fonio: developing new grower and consumer opportunities for a forgotten African heritage grain


GCRF AgriFood Africa Innovation Awards Round 3





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About the project

UK-registered Partner: University of Lincoln – Louise Manning
Africa-registered Partner: University for Development Studies – Francis Amagloh

The University of Lincoln (UK) and the University for Development Studies (UDS) (Ghana) undertook a project to develop new grower and consumer opportunities for Fonio.

Fonio (Digitaria exilis), is one of the oldest grown grains throughout West Africa, yet its current utilisation is limited. It is nutritious, gluten-free and climate-resilient, thus, a key food security crop. There is growing interest in the Fonio value chain, but there is limited awareness of Fonio’s potential economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The project used a student-centred approach to provide practical solutions to real-life challenges while developing the students’ knowledge, skills and capabilities as individuals and as groups in their approach to real-life situations.

The challenge, in this case, was how to increase the utilisation of forgotten, nutritious and climate-resilient grains by households in Ghana. Particularly, the student-led approach explored alternative and innovative options for Fonio bread(s) that would have industry and consumer acceptance.

Students were asked to form teams and were presented with the challenge and supported over the duration of the project to research and try multiple iterations of several recipes for Fonio bread until reaching a viable formulation. These products were then showcased via an interactive exhibition where attendees, bakers, industry, food scientists, and bread consumers, assessed and reviewed the breads, the students had developed.

Three groups received seed start-up funds and opportunities to work with the Business Incubation and Innovation Centre, Business Directorate of UDS, to develop further and commercialise their products.

Learn more about the project in this recording from our recent GCRF AgriFood Africa Project Showcase event.


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