Cereals & Grains

Barley grain ranks fourth in cereal production, with a world output of 136 million tonnes in 2007 (FAOSTAT). The crop requires a temperate climate; the principal growing areas are Europe and the Russian Federation but it is also a valuable and resilient crop in arid and semi-arid areas of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. It is predominantly used as flour for human consumption, in animal feed and as malt in alcoholic beverages.

Organization: The Central Research Institute for Field Crops, Ankara, Turkey
Author: Taner Akar, Muzaffer Avci and Fazil Dusunceli
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejía, FAO
Last Reviewed: 15/06/2004
(.pdf - 64pp - 1.2Mb)

Maize is widely grown throughout the world and has the highest production of all the cereals with 817 million tonnes being produced in 2009 (FAOSTAT). It is an important food staple in many countries, as well as being used in animal feed and many industrial applications. The crop has tremendous genetic variability, which enables it to thrive in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates.

Organization: FAO
Author: Danilo Mejía, FAO
Last Reviewed: 15/05/2003
(.pdf - 99pp - 1.9Mb)

Millet is a collective term referring to a number of small-seeded annual grasses that are cultivated as grain crops, primarily on marginal lands in dry areas of temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions. It is regarded as a subsistence grain grown for food and animal fodder. The largest production is in India and Nigeria. Total world production in 2007 was 31 million tonnes (FAOSTAT).

Author: Silas T.A.R. Kajuna
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 04/05/2001
(pdf 49pp 2.5Mb)

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Wild) is grown in arid and semi-arid areas of the Andes, but it is very adaptable and can be grown at sea level up to an elevation of 4 000 meters above sea levels. Its cultivation has spread to more than 70 countries. In 2008, Bolivia and Peru accounted for 92% of the world total of quinoa produced, followed by the United States, Ecuador, Argentina and Canada with 8%. In the most recent years, production in the Andean region has amounted to approximately 70 000 tonnes. Quinoa has a protein of high biological value with a high lysine content. It is used both in the human diet and as animal feed. The leaves and tender stems are eaten as leafy vegetables, until the beginning of the panicle phase, then the tender panicles are used for consumption. The ripe grain is also consumed, directly or in a processed state.

Author: Magno Meyhuay
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 01/06/1997
(pdf 35pp - 395Kb, in Spanish)

Rice is a staple food for over half the world's people and has the second largest cereal production after maize with over 685 million tonnes recorded in 2008 (FAOSTAT). China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan are the biggest producers. Rice cultivation requires more water than other cereals and is more labour intensive.
Organization: International Rice Research Institute, Philippines (IRRI)

Author: Ray Lantin
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/10/1999
(pdf 62pp - 0.4Mb)

Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grown with a world production of over 55 million tonnes in 2008 (FAOSTAT). Most varieties are heat and drought tolerant, hence it is an important crop in arid areas. It is an important source of food in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is also used to produce alcoholic beverages and biofuel.

Author: Food Security Department
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 14/10/1999
(pdf 32pp - 0.6Mb)

Soybean is a useful oil and protein source and can be used to improve the nutritional value of traditional foods. The beans are processed to give soy flour, meal or milk products and the oil can be extracted leaving a meal which is used for animal feed.  The soybean is toxic to humans and mono gastric animals and requires heat treatment to destroy the trypsin enzyme inhibitors. Cultivation requires a climate with hot summers. The main producers are Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Paraguay and the United States of America with a total world production of 230 million tonnes in 2008 (FAOSTAT).

Author: Islas-Rubio, A.R. & Higuera-Ciapara, I.
Technical Editor: Danilo Mejia, FAO
Last Reviewed: 07/06/2002
(pdf 94pp - 1.0Mb)
1 2