Petit mil n'yiéri
This millet (locally known as n’yiéri) looks like a short cob and the grains are groups at the end of the stalk, almost in the form of a cluster. The grains are smaller and lighter than those of traditional millet, while it is also less sugary and floury. It is cultivated in Burkina Faso because the growing cycle is quite short (75 days) which allows it to survive dry spells.
To help its cultivation, farmers can mix crop it with either corn or large millet, which should be planted 15 days after the small millet.
The traditional recipe for this product is Boale-boala, which is made by peeling the millet and grinding it into a fine flour. In a container this flour is mixed with a little bit of water, until a thick paste is formed. This is then shaped into short sticks which are steam cooked in a terracotta pot. Once the sticks are cooked they can be eaten with salt and oil. Another typical dish is called Nitchagni, which is made by heating the millet seeds in a pot to make them brittle and then grinding them just a little. The flour thus obtained is then mixed with water and a sweetening agent, either honey, baobab powder, or sugar. This recipe is often used to make a snack, and is offered to foreigners in a sign of welcome because its white color means that the locals welcome their guests with a white heart, with all of their heart, and open arms, even before knowing the reason for their visit.
There is a legend attached to this millet. The story says that a man left for a trip to find food for his family during a dry period. Having found nothing, he decided to bring some sand back to his family so as not to be embarrassed by coming home empty handed. When his wife opened the sack, however, and to the man’s great surprise, inside she found this millet. The family ate half and planted the other half; from that day forward they were never hungry again. To remember where millet comes from – continues the story – even today there is always a little bit of sand in every cob of millet.
The historic production area is in eastern Burkina Faso (Diapaga, Tansarga, Kotchari, Logbou), and the fields are usually two ha large. It is mainly planted for home consumption because it is principally cultivated to have some food available during periods in which the more important crops (corn, wheat) still aren’t ready to be harvested. This product is at risk of disappearing because it is threatened by better varieties, though it is still important thanks to its short growing cycle of 75 days and its usefulness during droughts. This millet is also more fragile than others, and more prone to attacks from insects and diseases.