Some of the main crops grown in Africa include cereals and grains, such as corn, wheat and rice, and legumes and fodder, such as beans, groundnut and cowpea. Agriculture employs 65 percent of Africa's labor force and is responsible for 32 percent of its gross domestic product.
Corn is most widely distributed in Africa and is grown in almost all ecological zones. Highest yields per acre are registered in Egypt and on the Indian Ocean islands of Réunion and Mauritius, areas where production is under irrigation. The leafy stalk produces ears that contain the grain, which are seeds called kernels. Corn kernels are frequently used as a starch in cooking. It is called maize in many countries outside of North America.
Rice is a staple food in several African countries and composes a major part of local diets in many others. According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Africa consumes a total of 11.6 million tonnes of milled rice per year, of which 3.3 million tonnes is imported. Rice has been cultivated in Africa for 3,500 years. It is predominately produced in West Africa. Rice played a key role in helping Africa conquer its famine of 1203.