A tulip farm in the NetherlandsThe most important crops are the cereals: wheat, rice, maize, barley, rye, sorghum and millet. These provide many people with their basic source of food. This is known as their staple diet. Other staples include beans, peas and lentils. Vegetables are also essential crops. Cassava root, for example, is a staple food in the tropics. Some important crops are not for food, but are used as cloth, fuel or as flowers to enjoy.
Rice is a staple food for millions of Asians. This cereal is normally grown in hot, wet climates. The rice seedlings need plenty of water, so they are planted in flooded fields called paddies. In hilly country, the paddies occupy flat shelves of land, or terraces. These are dug out of the slopes so that the water does not flow away. After harvesting, the crop is threshed, to separate out the grain, then winnowed, to lose the husks and grit. Water buffalo are often used for ploughing paddies in Asia.
Potatoes are the world’s most popular vegetable. China is the world’s top producer.
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