Senegalese Chef Puts Supergrain on New York Menus to Boost African Farmers


A gluten-free grain that grows in Africa’s impoverished and semi-arid Sahel region is taking off as a health food in New York, the Senegalese chef who masterminded its revival said Monday, outlining plans to almost double production by 2023.

Pierre Thiam began exporting fonio to New York last year, hoping to help smallholder communities in the Sahel, which stretches from Mauritania and Mali in the west to Sudan and Eritrea in the east and is home to more than 100 million people.

The grain is now on the menus of more than 60 New York restaurants and will soon be in all the city’s Whole Foods stores, according to an executive at Yolele Foods, the company he co-founded.

“It’s a grain that could play an important role in some of the poorest regions in the world. The Sahel,…

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