Cereal any gramineous plant grown for its edible, nutrient rich, starchy seeds. The term refers primarily to rice, wheat, maize, barley, millet, and oat. Cereals contain about 75% complex carbohydrates and about 10% protein, plus fats and fibres. World production of cereal crops exceeds 2 billion m tons. Affluent nations use a large portion of the production as animal feed.

The soil and climatic conditions of Bangladesh are favourable for the growth of certain types of cereals. Here, these crops are categorized as major and minor. Rice and wheat are considered as major, while maize, oat, barley, jab, jower, bazra, cheena and kaon (=millet) are the minor cereals.

Rice covers about 75 percent of the total annual cropped area. It is grown as aush, aman, or boro throughout the year. Wheat is cultivated as a Rabi crop during winter. Millet or kaon and cheena are cultivated either singly or as a mixed crop.

Table Area and output of cereals (2005-06).

Name of cereal Area (acre) Production (m ton)
Rice (aus, aman and boro) 26,18,000 2,65,30,000
Wheat 11,83,723 7,35,462
Maize 2,43,000 5,22,000
Jower 1,000 1,000
Barley 2,000 1,000
Millet (kaon) and others 44,000 12,000

Source Agricultural Statistics, 2007.

Cereals, particularly rice and to some extent wheat, are principal sources of carbohydrate food in Bangladesh. The total production, however, is not sufficient to feed the growing population of the country. A substantial quantity of food grains is therefore imported every year to meet domestic requirements. During 1992-93, about 955,059 m tons of wheat and 20,730 m tons of rice were imported. Corp failure due to floods and/or droughts often severely limit annual production of cereals in Bangladesh. Recently production of cereals, particularly rice, has increased considerably. Humayun Kabir]

See also wheat; rice; maize.