What are the World’s Staple Food Crops?

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staple food

Staple food crops are routinely eaten foods that are the most prominent part of a diet.

Does your community tend to eat wheat and rice more in your routine than carrots?

Hence, rice and wheat will be your community’s staple foods and a dominant part of their diet.

Different countries and communities have separate staple foods.

They grow from food crops.

Let’s learn about that in detail below.

types of staple food crops


Types of Crops

Crops are of six kinds. These are grown by agriculturists either for the purpose of consumption of for selling them for profit.

Some can be considered food while others are a bigger part of industries.

These include

Food Crops

Food crops range from cereals to pulses to vegetables and anything you can consume and eat.

The cereals are tall grasses that are full of carbohydrates and the plants come out of nutritious seeds.

Rice, barley, wheat and millet are the main cereals.

Another staple crop are pulses. These are legumes.

Examples include lentils and peas which are rich in protein.

It is inevitable to discuss fruits and vegetables when we discuss food crops.

Vegetables such as carrots and leafy greens are full of minerals, vitamins and fiber content for your body.

Likewise, fruit plants of mangoes and bananas provide a rich source of carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins among other nutrients.

Most importantly they are a good source of energy.

Seeds are also food crops and every crop grows from seeds and produces them too.

However, not all of them are edible.

Nuts and grains are edible seeds that are full of fats.

The spices in your dinner are also essentially food crops.

They contain alkaloids as a nutritional component.

So ginger, black pepper and herbs are part of this category.

Oilseed crops 

These are the kind of crops that produce oil through seeds.

You can extract oil by crushing their seeds.

This kind is mostly used in cooking but also for lubrication purposes.

Common examples include peanuts, flak seeds, mustard, sunflower(sunflower plant), olive oil and sesame.

You must have definitely heard of them before. They are full of fats.

Ornamental Crops

As the name suggests, these are not for consumption but for decoration.

You will find them in botanical gardens as houseplants or as displays as well as in landscaping projects.

They come under the branch of floriculture.

Hence, these crops are mainly beautiful flowers and plants that enhance a place by their presence.

cotton field


Fibrous Crops

Crops are also used for industrial purposes.

One such purpose is to provide fiber for mattress fillers, textile and ropes.

These fiber crops are purposefully grown for their selective purpose of production and profit.

These include cotton, jute and industrial hemp.

Industrial Crops

These crops are grown for selling and driving profit on an industrial scale.

Hence, their second name is cash crops.

Examples include jute, sugarcane, coffee, tobacco, tea and cotton.

All these crops have industrial usage and grown for selling in the market and are the raw material for other products such as tobacco is for cigarettes.

Feed Crops

As the name suggests, these are crops grown to be animal feeds.

They are also known as forage crops.

They are stored as hay or grown for livestock grazing.

Examples include oats and berseem.

They provide green fodder for livestock.

Moreover, they grow like any other crop and provide plenty of supply in the season.

Now that you know about the crops, let’s learn about the world’s staple crops.

staple foods


Staple Food Crops

Staple foods are eaten in a large quantity and they fulfill the energy requirements of a certain population.

People consume most of these staple foods in a day.

The culture of an area, its climate and trade determine what people consider staple food.

While our dishes and cuisines are different across the world, the ingredients are not.

Hence, most of us end up eating the same food crops such as wheat, rice, corn, green vegetables, oil and sugar.

These crops help to sustain the lives of humans around the world and we basically consume similar food crops.

Moreover, these crops are usually resistant to pests, changing climates and low nutrient soil in the area they grow.

Staple crops decrease the risk for farmers and benefit their agricultural system by increasing resilience.

Therefore, there is also less need for pesticides.

Only a few hundred out of 50,000 plant species are actually edible.

In fact, around 90 percent of food intake is provided by only 15 crop plants.

So what do you think are the most common staple foods across the world?

I’m pretty sure you took a wild guess and thought about grains like wheat and rice.

Well, you are right because corn, wheat and rice alone make up to 51 percent of calorie intake across the world.

corn field


Corn Makes up to 19.5 percent of Global Calorie Intake

Hope you are not surprised.

The most common staple food that contributes to the highest amount of calorie intake worldwide is not wheat or rice but corn.

Its average yield is around 5.1 tons per hectare.

It has a good amount of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

Also, it is the most produced grain worldwide.

Originated from Mexico around 10,000 years ago, Corn has spread across the world through trade making it a major food source across the US, Europe and Africa.

Now it is a part of most dishes either eaten boiled, dried to make flour, or processed to make sweeteners and oils.

Moreover, it is also part of ethanol production.

wheat field


Grains-Wheat and Rice

Rice makes up about 16.5 percent of the world’s caloric intake while wheat comprises about 15 percent.

Rice originates from South Asia and Southeast Asia but is now well spread across the world to Africa and Latin America.

Around 1.6 billion people consume rice as their staple item.

This crop requires humid and warm climate conditions which are best found in South Asia and East Asia.

It was also first consumed in Japan around 100 BC and came to America through Portuguese trade.

Its average yield is around 4.3 tons per hectare and it contributes to 1/5th of the caloric intake worldwide.

Wheat originates from the Middle East but today’s largest wheat producers are China, US , Indian and Russia.

It is a resilient crop that can grow in harsh climate conditions.

It is a source of vegetable protein and an average yield is about 3.1 tons per hectare.

Its main use is by drying and pulverizing it to form a flour.

This flour is consumed in the form of bread, pasta, cereals and much more.

People live on a diet based of grains such as rice, wheat, maize in different parts on the world.

potato plant


Potatoes, Roots and Tuber Crops

Roots and Tuber Crops make up to 5.3 percent of worldwide caloric intake.

These include vegetables like potatoes that have an average yield of 7.2 tons per hectare.

Among the nongrain foods, it is number one and is hugely consumed across the world.

They make up about 1.7 percent of the world’s human caloric intake.

Other forms of root food sources such as yams and sweet potatoes also provide a good caloric intake worldwide of 0.4 and 0.6 percent respectively.

Yuca is a common tuber that provides about 2.6 percent calories.

It has an average yield of 12.5 tons per hectare.

Roots grow in harsh climates which are difficult for the growth of other crops.

Moreover, it is full of starch so it is a good food alternative to grains in countries with low incomes.

It is most commonly taken in South American and Africa.

hands holding soybean


Other Staple Food Crops

The average yield of soybeans is around 2.4 tons per hectare.

Soybeans have traveled from East Asia to America because they have double benefits.

They not only provide nutrition in the form of proteins and oil but also act as a fertilizer for the soil.

They can produce about two times of protein over an acre and far outweighs the demand by giving a plentiful supply.

Other important staple foods are sorghum, yams and plantains.

Sorghum is a cereal crop that has an average yield of 1.5 tons per hectare.

It is a resistant crop that can tolerate the harshness of heat and drought in different periods of time.

Therefore it can provide food where other cereals cannot grow in arid and dry regions.

Hence semi-arid regions in Asia and Africa make the most use of it and it is the 5th most important cereal.

The edible species is known as Sorghum bicolor while other species are used for foliage.

The average yield of Yams is about 10.5 tons per hectare.

Yams are not as popular and common as the other food item but they are still a staple crop of certain regions.

These include West and Central Africa, as well as Nigeria, being the biggest producer.

They are usually the first crop to harvest in the year and are long enough to become almost 5 feet long.

Another local staple crop is plantains.

They are grown mostly in Latin America and Africa compared to other regions as they require tropical climates and growing conditions.

The average yield is about 3.6 tons per hectare.

Plantains resemble bananas they are, however, richer in starch and less in sugar content.

Moreover, you cannot eat them raw as they should be cooked.

While it is a staple crop in rainforests and tropical region, poor crop husbandry and soil degradation has decreased its production.

However, they provide fiber and potassium to fill dietary needs and are a staple crop.

staple food crop



The foods around the world will provide you with enough nutrition and energy to get by.

Hence, they are a part of your population’s diet.

Meat, dairy products and fruits complement staple food crops because they provide the nutrients the crops lack.

Implement a small amount of all basic nutrients in your diet to get the benefits of all of them.










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