Of more than 50,000 edible plant species in the world, only a few contribute significantly to food supplies.
Just 15 crop plants provide 90 percent of the world’s food energy intake. Of these, just three - rice, wheat and maize, provide 60 percent of the world’s food energy intake.
Although there are over 10,000 species in the Granineae (cereal) family, few have been widely introduced into cultivation over the past 2,000 years.
Rice feeds almost half of humanity.
Per capita rice consumption has generally remained stable or risen slightly since the 1960s.
It has declined in recent years in many of the wealthier, rice-consuming countries such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, because increased incomes have enabled people to eat a more varied diet.
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly, constitutes a major part of the diet and supplies a major portion of energy and nutrient needs.
A staple food does not meet a population’s total nutritional needs: a variety of foods is required.
Typically, staple crops are well adapted to the conditions in their source areas. For example, they may be tolerant of drought, pests or soils low in nutrients.