The Nigeria Acha A Minor Crop With Mighty Benefits!

The fonio crop known as Acha in Nigeria is one of the world’s fastest maturing grains, growing well in poor, sandy soils irrespective of soil fertility and also amazingly growing in popularity all over the world, a wonder tiny grain with two species of the white fonio called (Digitaria Exilis) and the black fonio (Digitaria Iburua); the black fonio-Acha even though scarce worldwide can easily be found sold in all Nigeria markets. A domesticated crop with cultural and nutritional significance in the northern parts of Nigeria in particular and the nation as a whole; Acha is a life-saver that helps covers a food gap during the hunger season of the before and after the farming season cycle, thereby providing food and helping to prevent hunger. The farming to food of Acha crop is traditionally done by men and women who are mostly seen on farms harvesting by hands and threshing by feet; separating the edible parts from the chaff is a very difficult, time-consuming, labor-intensive methods of de-husking, milling, and processing above all adding more sands to the grains which contribute to the decline in the demands for the wonder crop. An improved farming method is necessary for the marketing of the grain of life to gain a much more wider acceptance all over the world; needing also a general activity to generate excitement about the great potential in Acha as a highly nutritious grain that is priceless for the export market, a grain that is vital for food security anywhere in the world, thereby deserving knowledge in research and development, a modern processing method to increase yield which can lead to good income generation for farmers in helping to improve their lives.

Acha grain is a respected ancient heritage, an all-season favorite, one of the tiniest grains of all the millet species with a delicate nutty and earthy flavor; it is an exotic grain reserved and served for the highly esteemed in the community such as chiefs, village heads, kings, and royal fathers. A must presented grain during special traditional occasions such as ancestral rituals and worships, a part of the bride price when demanded or the groom-to-be is instructed to cultivate the Acha Farm of the bride-to-be family.
Acha is an essential favorite food crop of the middle belt; a traditional food which is called “Fonyo” by the Fulani of northern Nigeria, the white Acha is commonly grown all over the upland of central Nigeria and other neighboring regions while the black fonio is mostly grown in the Jos-Bauchi plateau of the northern states and some parts of southern Nigeria.

Acha Most Popular And Delicious Recipes:- Acha grain is a prestige food, a major ingredient in cultural cuisines for religious rites and traditional ceremonies. Fonio crops can be processed into great flour for bread and baked goodies, steamed or cooked and eaten as a wholesome meal just like rice, couscous, and corn grits, a perfect substitutes in recipes, with a deliciously mild taste, slightly nutty flavor, blend perfectly with any ingredients to prepare a deliciously delicate delicacy. Acha grains can be eaten alone or mixed with any favorite ingredients such recipes include gruel, porridge, couscous, stir-fried, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic beverages. Acha has a texture just like grits or couscous with a sand color and mostly contains a load of gritty sand particles due to the crude processing methods; always rinse the hulled Fonio-Acha grains before cooking. Soak in a lot of water, until the grains settle, and the husks are floating atop the water. Strain off the water, and carefully scoop the Acha grains avoiding the sand particles at the base of the bowl. Acha in recipes with a unique taste can only be achieved if it is roasted or toasted first to help enhance the flavor, taste and to prevent the tiny grains from sticking together to become mushy and mashed-up; toasting Acha brings out its nutty aroma, making it absorb water without dissolving or disintegrating during cooking.

Traditional Separation Of Sand From Acha Grains:- Acha small seed size makes harvest and processing so difficult; sands tend to remain with the seeds which produce gritty sandy foods, it is necessary to thresh the Acha crops on a clean, hard, non-sandy surface rather than threshing on the bare sandy ground with sticks and stepping all over it thereby mixing it with more sand. It is also advisable before cooking to wash thoroughly the Acha grains to rid them of any remaining sands and debris which normally settle at the base of the bowl upon soaking the Acha grains. Generally all grains mostly contain sand and tiny grits of debris if not properly processed especially in the traditional processing techniques but proper washing techniques helps to rid it of sands and this can be done with the use of two calabashes or bowls to wash sandy grains and get rid of sand particles. Absolutely easy with practice, to do this pour the grains in one of the calabashes, add water to cover the grains, using a circular rotating motion and swaying the wrists to and fro, stir the grains continuously in the water with the wrist in motion, the tiny sand which are normally heavier than any cereal grains will automatically settle at the base of the calabash. Then gently sway the soaking grains from side to side, rotating it at the same time, and carefully tilt the calabash towards the second calabash while gently pouring the grains into the second calabash at the lower end, avoid the sand from moving into the second calabash with the grains. At the end of it all, only the sands remain in the upper calabash, discard the sand residues and rinse the calabash of the sands. Then add on fresh water and repeat the process twice or thrice until there are no more sands in the calabashes; rinse for the final time until clean, then the grains are ready for use in any recipe free of sands and impurities.

Acha Boiling Or Plain Cooking:- Traditionally Acha is cooked as couscous in a loose gritty form like rice, use for preparing porridge, often can be milled into flour for use in baked and fried goodies, it is a superb substitute for any grain such as rice, wheat, couscous, barley, millet, sorghum or quinoa. Acha if not well processed is very sandy due to its tiny grains so always wash thoroughly before using in recipes to get rid of dust and sand grits.
Recipe Ingredients:- Acha grains, water, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil is optional.
Recipe Steps:- Boil the water in a deep saucepan, add salt and olive oil drops which is optional.
As soon as the water starts to boil, stir in the Acha grains and mix in well.
Cover the saucepan with a lid, reduce heat and cook on low heat for 5 minutes until all the liquid content is absorbed; mostly refer to as steam-up for 5 minutes just like the cooking of couscous.
Turn off heat and allow the boiled grains to finish cooking with the steam for another 10 minutes.
Open the lid and with the aid of a kitchen fork fluff it all up, until light and evenly separated but if too soggy steam on low heat until all liquid is dehydrated.
Serve with sauce, stews, and vegetable soups.

Acha Swallow Is Known As Tuwon Acha In Hausa:- A popular northern Nigeria main meal serves with any soup of choice after scooping into molds or morsel; dip into soup and swallow. The tuwon Acha is either prepared using the Acha flour or Acha grains, continuously stir while on low heat, until it forms a thick stretchy dough then molded and serve with soups of choice.
Recipe Ingredients:- Acha grains or Acha Flour and water.
Recipe Steps:- Acha Tuwon Laushi is prepared by putting some water to boil on low heat. Then gradually introduce the Acha flour into the boiling water and continuously stir quickly to avoid lumps, just like when making a semolina meal. Stir until thick, cooked dough, then reduce the heat and cover to finish cooking slowly with the steam. Check and stir into a smooth and soft morsel, scoop and mold into balls.

Tuwon Acha Grains:- Place a pot on low heat, pour enough water to cook Acha until soften into the pot. Bring water to boil and quickly stir in Acha gradually into the boiling water to avoid lumps. Cover and reduce heat to the lowest, cook Acha until soft and water are all dehydrated. Stir and turn continuously with a spatula or stirring stick until smooth and dough is form.
Scoop and mold into morsels.
Serve with soup of choice.

Acha Pudding:- The breakfast pudding can be prepared into an all-vegan delight, substituting the cow milk for soy or coconut milk is a healthier choice than the use of animal milk.

Recipe Ingredients:-
Acha grains.
Milk, but for vegan pudding use soy or coconut milk.
Fruits of choice.
Favorite nuts for a nutty crunchiness.
A pinch of salt, sugar, or honey.
Recipe Steps:- Put water to boil or the plant-based milk to boil on low heat; add a pinch of salt to balance the taste.
Stir in the raw Acha cereals, turning it continuously to avoid the grains clumping and forming lumps, cook until cereal thickens, soften and turn creamy. Once cooked the pudding will begin to bubble and splash hot tiny bubbles, quickly cover to avoid burns. Remove from heat.
Another method is to place the washed Acha into a deep saucepan, add water and bring it to boil on low heat; stirring it constantly to prevent the grains from clumping together. Cook until fluffy soft and thick. Remove from the heat, add full creamed milk.
Sweeten with honey for a healthy sweetness and garnish with any fruits and nuts of choice.
Serve hot to enjoy the pudding, if allow to completely cool off it turns into a thick solid, hardening like a hard boil egg.

Acha Kunun Zaki:- The Acha grains are mostly used in various traditional recipes into thick or thin porridges and puddings, steam cooked into stir-fries, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
The Acha grains are steep in warm water for 24-72 hours depending on the weather, in a local clay pot, calabashes, or basins.
Then the grains are either dry or wet-milled with native spices such as ginger, chili pepper, black pepper, and cloves. Other ingredients added for natural sweetness include raw sweet potatoes, malted rice, or sorghum. The milling is done traditionally with grinding stones or mortar and pestles which also depends on the tribes and cultures of the locality, but with the modern machines of the grinding mills, most of the locales now prefer the use of the milling machines to process the tiny grains into a smoother paste or fine flour.
The paste or flour is then sieved with a smooth mesh or cheese bag, into a very thin free-flowing gruel just a little bit thicker than a juice drink which is popularly known as “Kunun Zaki” and is enjoyed by many irrespective of social class in the society. A very popular drink served with snacks and if allowed to ferment for several more days; it then turns into a mildly alcoholic beverage known as “Pito” or “Burukutu” called giya in Hausa.

Acha And Millet Kunun Zaki:- Acha can be combined with other grains type to make this sweet and satisfying native beverage; Acha and millet grains mix well and to prepare this refreshing drink simply wash and clean very well the two grains, discarding the sand residues at the base of the bowl, steep in warm water or soak for several hours and if possible soak overnight. Wash again, notice the grains is hydrated and doubled in size, add the local spices of ginger, cloves, and black pepper. Dried granulated sweet potatoes are then added for natural sweetness and then wet-milled to produce a slurry paste consistency. The mixture is divided into three equal parts and two-thirds of the slurry mixture was gelatinized by adding hot boiled water and stir immediately. Cover and allow to stand undisturbed for two hours. After that the kunun zaki will cool off, then the remaining one-third part of the fresh slurry reserved is added, mix-in in properly, and allow the mixture to stand covered for twelve hours. After several hours mix properly, filter using a mesh or cheese bag. Sweeten by adding organic sucrose or sugar to produce the local refreshing drink popularly called kunun zaki.

Acha Jollof:- Same ingredients with jollof rice recipes but the only difference is the substitute of the rice with the Acha grains and the water content is less because the grains are tender, tiny, and light.
Add mixed spices, peas, green pepper, and other vegetables for more beautiful colors, taste, aroma, and more richness.
Serve with any fresh vegetable salad, plantain or Irish chips, fried eggs, and other side dishes of choice.

Gwate Acha In Hausa Is The Acha Mixed Veggies Porridge:-
A cultural cuisine that is relished by everyone in the northern parts of Nigeria. It is a super-rich, healthy, nutrient-dense dish with a great load of fresh, colorful, and mixed vegetables; with a taste of savory, sour, and bitter-sweet which gives a thrilling unique taste to savor.
Recipe Ingredients:-
Acha grains.
Meat, Meat bones, Meat brisket.
Smoked fish and Daddawa (optional).
Mixed fresh vegetables of tomatoes, Scotch bonnets, And the Green bitter eggplants or garden eggs known as Gauta in Hausa.
Onion Bulbs and Spring onions.
Fresh green leaves of Cabbage, Spinach, and the hibiscus known as Yakuwa in Hausa.
Seasoning cubes, and local spices.
Palm oil, or olive oil, and salt are optional; it is a salt-less and oil-less one-pot recipe.

Recipe Steps:- The authentic and traditional recipe has no added salt and is oil-less; the seasoning cubes and the locust beans known as Daddawa will enrich the taste of the mixed vegetable porridge.
Wash meat, meat bones, and meat brisket thoroughly and put all into a deep pot, add water, chopped onions, spices, Daddawa, and the seasoning cubes. Place on medium heat and cook until the meat is tender. Wash and dice into chunks the mixed vegetables of tomatoes, scotch bonnets, bitter garden eggs, and onion bulbs into a separate bowl if prefer roughly blend or pound and add to the boiling meat.
Wash Acha grains until water is clean, discard the sand residue at the base of the bowl dish, gradually stir in the grains quickly to avoid lump balls forming, add the washed and chopped green leaves of spinach, hibiscus leaves known as yakuwa, spring onions, and some garden eggs quartered into chunks. Adding diced carrots gives the meal more beautiful colors and richness.
Cover and allow to steam cook all the vegetables; Mix all ingredients in well and remove from heat.
Serve hot or cold, a light, healthy and delicious meal.

Acha Stir-Fried:-
Recipe Ingredients:-
Acha Grains.
Fresh Tomatoes, onions, scotch bonnets, green, red, and yellow bell pepper.
Chicken, hardboiled eggs, smoked or fresh fish.
Olive oil, palm oil, or vegetable oil.
Seasoning cubes, salt, mixed spices of ginger, garlic, cloves, black pepper, thyme, or curry (divide into two equal parts, half goes into the stir-fry veggies and the other half goes into the stir-fry Acha but combining both afterwards).

Recipe Steps:-
Wash Acha grains, strain off water severally until all grain is clean, scoop the Acha and discard sand residue at the base of the bowl. Turn the washed Acha into a perforated bowl to drain off excess water.
Place a deep saucepan on heat, add in oil of choice. Add chopped onions to the heated oil and saute until translucent.
Wash and dice mixed colorful vegetables, add to the onions, and stir.
Add in the cooked chicken or de-boned smoked fish; if using but if fresh fish is included add in last.
Stir continuously to avoid sticking to the pan, add in mixed spices, seasoning cubes, and salt. Combine all properly.
Remove from heat and turn the stir-fry vegetable sauce into a separate plate.
Add the half remaining oil for the recipe reserved into the used saucepan just enough to stir-fry, add the washed and drained Acha into the saucepan, then stir-fry on low heat stirring constantly. Mix in the reserved half of spices, salt, and seasoning cubes. Turn and mix in all ingredients to combine properly.
The stir-fry veggies come in now, add and turn over the Stir-fry Acha with vegetables, toss all ingredients to mix in well.
Serve hot or cold with any favorite side dish or fresh juice of choice.

Acha Pop-Up Snack:- A snack eaten by the handful just like the popcorn, it can be toasted or roasted into a sweet or savory Pop-Acha depending on what is added into it, the addition of salt or sugar then decides the taste.
Recipe Ingredients:-
Acha grains.
Sugar or salt according to choice.
Flavor or plain according to taste.

Recipe Steps:-
Wash Acha thoroughly to get rid of dirt, dust, and sand residues. Drain all water, sprinkle salt or sugar, and spread out to dry.
Put a metal pot on low heat, then pour into the pot the dried Acha grains; and gently swirl it over the fire. Within a few seconds, the very tiny grains will begin to burst and bounce.
Continue swirling on low heat until all grains are pop-up.
Turn the light and puffy tiny version of a pop-corn known as a Pop Acha into a bowl.
Serve with any fruit juice of your choice.

Acha Pancakes:- A light meal serve for breakfast with beverages or eaten as snacks with fresh fruit juices.
Recipe Ingredients:-
Acha flour.
Eggs, And Milk
Sweetener And Flavor of choice.

Recipe Steps:-
Sieve the Acha flour into a mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, flavor, and sweetener of choice; Honey is a great healthy choice.
Mix in all ingredients into a thick consistency and beat until fluffy light to avoid the pancake disintegrating and sticking to the pan while frying.
Place a clean non-stick frying pan on low heat, add oil, and heat up.
Add a scoop full of Acha mixture, tilt the pan to evenly distribute the mixture.
Watch closely to avoid burning, flip or turn over to fry the other side.
Serve with a drizzle of honey, jam, cream, or fruit of choice.

Acha Health Benefits:- Acha is one of the healthiest grains in the World, gluten-free with an easy-to-digest grain that is tolerated by the most sensitive guts of little babies to the elderly and the health-conscious people; always remember that everything eaten in moderation helps to combat a lot of diseases. A healthy energy booster with excellent loads of minerals that decrease inflammation also aid in decreasing the chances of cardiovascular issues like heart diseases. The Acha grain excellent loads of fiber fills up the stomach fast; with a steady energy-yielding metabolism for the reduction of fatigue and tiredness which also helps to avoid food cravings after a meal. Acha grains are light, delicious, and nutrient-dense; with loads of iron which makes it excellent for people suffering from anemia and iron deficiency, calcium, niacin and phosphorus, perfect for pregnant women in particular and everyone generally. A wonderful grain that is packed full of vitamins which is higher in protein loads than “Quinoa”; a fantastic source of plant-based amino acids having a higher load of sulfur-containing methionine and cysteine which makes for a great addition to the diets of people who lack animal or protein-based foods. A diabetic-friendly grain because Acha’s low GI (Glycemic Index) and sugar content help to reduce fluctuations in the blood glucose and insulin levels; an ideal superfood choice for people with diabetes and high blood sugar levels, it is generally recommended for diabetic and hypertensive patients in Nigeria. Acha grains are a nutrition powerhouse for weight loss, beautiful smooth skin, gloriously radiant hair growth. 

Sustainability Of The Acha Grains:- The ancient grains of Acha is Non-GMO and pesticide-free, it is sustainable and has a much smaller carbon footprint than most crops due to the fact that it can grow in rough soil with minimum irrigation; Acha is a crop that is easily accessible when barns are empty and the next seasons harvest is not ready, a handy crop to ward off hunger. Farming To Food of the Acha grains for food security in northern Nigeria is valuable; especially in times of drought, war, or food scarcity when the major staple food of any given community falls short, Acha crop can always come to the rescue due to the fact that it can be planted and will yield a good harvest in a very short period of cultivation because it grows sooner than a lot of other staple crop reaching maturity in as little a time as six weeks with a period season of seventy to eighty-five days, depending on the variety of fonio crop planted. 

The sustainability of the fonio grains is made easy by the availability of grazing land all over Nigeria to grow the Acha crops without any negative impact on the environment because the fonio grains are so easy to grow with little water requirement, easy also on the soil which grows and thrive well in Arid region such as northern Nigeria without any needed inputs; which automatically makes the fonio grains an organic crop. Simply put, the fonio crop flourishes in poor soil and bad weather conditions; where in the northern Nigeria farming culture irrigation is non-existence and the farmers totally rely on a short rainfall season for agriculture, the fonio-Acha crop comes in as a real bountiful blessing. Great importance for the rural economy; Acha grains are excellent animal feeds, digested efficiently by all animal species, the straw and chaff also make a valuable feed for animals, the straw is also mixed with clay for building huts, houses, walls, barns, burned to provide heat for cooking, ash for potash and an amazing potential for increasing the food supply in any given community. A real export channel is an all-inclusive way of motivating farmers to grow the Acha grains for export, in order to generate more income for the individual farmers, stakeholders, and the community as a whole. 

Acha has great potential in health and medicine, can significantly aids in the healthy daily diets of families, improve the economic status of any community, a wholesome feed for animals, and food security for the people of Nigeria. The wholesome Acha grains is an absolutely needed intervention most especially NOW at this time of food scarcity, high prices of foodstuffs, insecurity in social, economic, and the political landscape of the country but above all the challenging high cost of health care. It is necessary to bring together major stakeholders in the society for an all-inclusive collaboration which requires the government, research and development by the Academia, the food manufacturing industries to fund the mechanization of the “farming to food” of the Acha crop, for the overall development of the Acha grains in order to meet the demands of Nigeria growing populations for all to experience the full benefits of the Amazing Acha grains and to export the crop to earn foreign exchange for the development of the Nigeria economy.

Acha grain is treasured more highly than many other cereal for taste and its nutrients; It is plant-based and naturally vegan, making it an excellent organic crop, gluten-free for a healthier, energetic, and longer life. In today’s world of fast foods and fast life with modernization taking over and cutting down the life span of humans; Acha grain is the best choice, a powerhouse of nutrient, absolutely filling, so versatile, light, and delicious, Go back in time to the ancient days of healthy living and longevity with a meal of Acha every day!