Staple crops are plants grown for their parts which are used as a staple food.
The staple food is one that is regularly consumed in large quantities to form the basis of a traditional diet and which serves as a major source of energy and nutrients.
Staples may be grouped into the starchy type and protein-rich type.
The pulses belong to the protein-rich group.
Many traditional diets in developing countries consist of both starchy and legume staples to obtain a more nourishing food.
Botanically, the plant part that is consumed may be a seed, fruit, modified root, modified stem, or pith of the stem (as in sago palm).
Many cereals, roots, and tuber crops are stapled crops but are also grown extensively for processing into industrial products such as vegetable oil and biofuel.
Although more than 50,000 plants in the world are edible, only a few hundred are consumed in significant amounts.
Ninety percent of the world’s food energy intake comes from a mere 15 crops with rice, corn, and wheat contributing two-thirds of this.
These three are the staples of more than 4,000 million people, with rice being consumed by almost one-half of the world’s population.
List of Major Staple Crops
A. Cereal Crops
Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
Corn, maize, mais (Zea mays)
Millet- common millet (Panicum miliaceum), finger millet (Eleusine coracana), Foxtail millet (Setaria italica), pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)
Oat (Avena sativa)
Rice, palay (Oryza sativa)
Rye (Secale cereale)
Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
Teff (Eragrostis tef)
Wheat- bread wheat (Triticum aestivum), durum wheat (Triticum turgidum)
B. Root and Tuber Crops
Arrowroot, araro (Maranta arundinacea)
Cassava, tapioca, manioc, kamoteng kahoy, balanghoy (Manihot esculenta)
Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke, French potato, Canada potato, lambchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Potato, white potato, irish potato, patatas (Solanum tuberosum)
Sweet potato, camote (Ipomoea batatas)
Taro, gabi, ordinary taro, cocoyam, dalo, talo, arum, dasheen, (Colocasia esculenta)
Yam, greater yam, water yam, ubi (Dioscorea alata)
Yautia, tannia, karlang, palawan, bisol, takudo (Xanthosoma sagittifolium)
C. Fruit Crops
Banana, bananier, pisang, saging, (Musa spp.)
Breadfruit, rimas, kulo (Artocarpus altilis)
Plantain, cooking banana, saging, cardaba, saba (Musa spp.)
Sago palm, sagu, landang (Metroxylon sagus)
Sweet palm, kaong (Arenga pinnata)
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris)
Pea (Pisum sativum)
Soybean (Glycine max)
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Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). n.d. Staple foods: what do people eat? Retrieved October 16, 2010 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/u8480e/u8480e07.htm.
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Elfick, J. 2010. Taro Project. Retrieved October 16, 2010 from http://www.uq.edu.au/_School_Science_Lessons/TaroProj.html.