World population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050 and the phenomenon is expected to cause a surge in demand for food, feed and industrial raw materials. Cereals (i.e., carbohydrate-rich grain crops) are the most widely grown and consumed crops worldwide. All cereals combined provide approximately 56% and 50% of global energy and protein needs, respectively. Maize, wheat, rice, barley and sorghum are the most produced and consumed cereals, globally. These are widely grown across the world from the tropics to the temperate regions. Although efforts are being done by governments, research organizations and academic institutions to increase productivity of these important crops, huge yield deficits still exist. Climate induced biotic (e.g., pests and diseases) as well as abiotic stresses (especially; heat and drought) are widely regarded as the key yield-constraining factors of most cereal crops. Given the contribution of cereals in global food and nutrition security, improvements in productivity of cereal production systems is mandatory if livelihoods are to be guaranteed. This chapter discusses the global production and utilization of four of the major global cereals, limiting factors to their productivity and possible solutions to the production constraints.
Part of the book: Cereal Grains
Boosting crop production is a vital venture for enhancement of humanity. However, it remains a dream, especially in developing countries. To attain food security at household level, productivity is constrained by a several biotic and abiotic stresses. Yield losses are usually influenced by abiotic stresses, particularly drought and heat stress, and poor soil fertility. Optimal crop production under these stress factors requires substantial inputs, including irrigation and heavy fertilization, strategies which majority of farmers in poor countries lack capacity to exploit. Therefore, much more sustainable and accessible alternatives need to be developed in order to address the problem of food insecurity. Recently, research has proven that plant adaptation to abiotic stresses can be promoted by beneficial microbial species, especially those that reside in the rhizosphere. For instance, mycorrhizal fungi have been found to expand the root system of plants to access more water and nutrients. In-depth understanding of the mechanisms underlying beneficial plant-microbe interactions is key in development of holistic programs for boosting yields under abiotic stress conditions. This chapter seeks to unravel the mechanisms underlying beneficial plant-microbe interactions and the importance of these interactions in stress-adaptation.
Part of the book: Plant Defense Mechanisms