Maize, the American Indian word for corn, literally means “that which sustains life.” After wheat and rice, it is the most important cereal grain in the world, providing nutrients for humans and animals. It also serves as a basic raw material for the production of starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, and fuel. Maize has the highest average yield per hectare.
Maize is an important food in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and parts of the former Soviet Union. Each country has one or more maize dishes that are unique to its culture. Examples are ogi (Nigeria), kenkey (Ghana), koga (Cameroon), toi (Mali), injera (Ethiopia), and ugali (Kenya). Most of these products are processed in traditional ways. In Africa, ground maize is cooked into a paste or mush and eaten while still warm, accompanied by a thick low-alcoholic beer. In some areas of Africa, maize mush is fried or baked. In Central and Latin American, maize is consumed in the form of maize bread or tortillas.