16 Most Important Plant Species in The World


There are 16 Most Important Plant Species and are needed by humans in 2019. These Species are absolutely needed by humans to survive. Without them, the human’s existence may become vulnerable. The Most Produced Plant by harvested output came from FAO Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) in 2019.





Of course, based on their functionality with the increasing number of total plant output, the role of a plant to meet basic human needs is getting higher. In the discussion of this article, the order ranking is based on the total production of output (tonnes)  based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization Statistical Database (FAOSTAT), United Nations in 2019.

Table 16 Most Important Plant Species in The World Based on FAOSTAT in 2019

NoCommodity NameScientific NameArea HarvestedProduction in 2019
Hectare (Ha)(Tons)
1 Sugarcane Saccharum officinarum26,777,0411,949,310,108
2 Maize Zea mays197,204.2501,148,487,291
3 Paddy Oryza sativa162,055,938755,473,800
4 Wheat Triticum spp.215,901,958765,769,635
5 Potatoes Solanum tuberosum L.17,340,986370,436,581
6 Soybeans Glicine max120,501,628333,671,692
7 Oil palm fruit Elaeis guineensis28,312,612410,696,692
8 Cassava Manihot utilissima27,520,043303,568,814
9 Tomatoes Solanum lycopersicum5,030,545180,766,329
10 Banana Musa spp5,158,582116,781,658
11 Sweet potatoes Ipomoea batatas7,768,87091,820,929
12 Yams Dioscorea alata8,910,48574,321,821
13 Sorghum Sorghum spp.40,074,66757,893,378
14 Olive Olea europaea10,578,24619,464,495
15 Natural Rubber Hevea brasiliensis12,339,05814,616,614
16 Coffee Coffea L.11,120,49810,035,576

Source : FAO, 2020


From the table above, it can be concluded that the plants that have the highest total output are still dominated by food plants for human consumption, especially those from the Gramineae / Poaceae plant family such as corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans. The following explanation of species’ cultivation and distribution in various continents and countries in 2018 is below.


Ranking of Plants and Their Distribution


16 .  Coffee/ Coffea spp

Coffee is a perennial crop that has various benefits in every day of human life. Many people enjoy drinking coffee to serve guests, accompanying work activities, and reduce sleepiness at night. Biologically, the most widely grown coffee plants consist of Robusta Coffee (Coffea canephora), Liberika Coffee (Coffea Liberica), and Arabica Coffee (Coffea arabica). In 2019, the total area for coffee cultivation reached 11.1 million hectares with a total production of 10.0 million tons. The continents of Asia and America are the centers of world coffee cultivation. Countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, Columbia, and Honduras are some of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world. More specifically, Brazil produced 3.5 million tons of coffee, Vietnam with 1.6 million tons, Indonesia with 722 thousand tons, Columbia with 720 thousand tons, and Honduras with 480 thousand tons.


15. Natural Rubber/ Hevea brasiliensis

Rubber is one of the plants from the Euphorbiaceae family which belongs to the most produced species in the world. In 2019, the total production reached 14 million tons with a planted area of more than 12 million hectares. The Asian continent is still the center for planting this plant with Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and China as the world’s rubber plant cultivation centers. Functionally, the rubber latex output is the most Indispensable raw material in the automotive industry.


14. Olive/ Olea europaea

Olive is a plant whose oil can have benefits for a variety of health, beauty, and cooking benefits. In 2019, the total planted area reached 10.5 million hectares with a total production reaching 19 million tons. Several countries such as Spain, Italy, and Morocco are some of the largest producing countries for this commodity. Spanish production in 2018 reached 9.8 million tonnes, Italy at 1.8 million tonnes, and Morocco at 1.5 million tonnes.


13. Sorghum/  Sorghum spp.

Sorghum is a species from the Poaceae / Gramineae family which is popular in the world. In 2019, production reached 57 million tons with a land area of around 40 million hectares worldwide. Sorghum is a raw material of animal feed, ethanol, and food raw materials. The continents of America and Africa are the largest production areas for this crop. The African continent contributes 29 million tons of sorghum and America by 19 million tons. In terms of producing countries in 2018, the United States, Nigeria, Already, Ethiopia, and India are some of the largest sorghum-producing countries in the world. The United States of America produced 9 million tonnes, Nigeria 6.8 million tonnes, Sudan at 4.9 million tonnes, Ethiopia at 4.9 million tonnes, and India at 4.8 million tonnes.


12. Yam/ Dioscorea alata

Yam is one of the favorite tuber crops for consumption by the world. In 2019, the total area reached 8.9 million hectares with a total production reaching 74 million tons. In 2018, There are some countries with the biggest production. Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Benin are some of the largest producing countries for this commodity. Nigeria produced 47 million tons, Ghana 7.8 million tons, Ivory Coast 7.2 million tons, and Benin 2.9 million tons.


11. Sweet Popato/ Ipomoea batatas

Sweet potato is a tuber crop that is among the most widely grown and produced in the world. Historically, in 2019, the total planted area reached 7,7 million hectares with 91 million tons. China, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania are some of the largest producing countries for sweet potatoes. China’s production in 2018 reached 53 million tons, Malawi was 5.6 million tons, Nigeria 4 million tons, and Tanzania 3.8 million tons.


10. Banana/ Musa Spp

Banana (Musa spp) is one of the most widely popular fruits in the world. In 2019, the planted area reached 5.1 hectares (ha) with total production recorded at 116 million tonnes. According to FAO data for 2018, India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and Ecuador are some of the largest banana-producing countries in the world. The total production of Indian reached 30 million tons, China was 11 million tons, and Indonesia was 7 million tons.


9. Tomato / Solanum lycopersicum

Tomatoes are one of the most horticulture with famous function as a sauce. In 2019, the total production of tomato fruit output reached 180 million tons with a total planted area of 5 million hectares (ha). When viewed from the production area, there are several countries that are the center of tomato cultivation. China is the largest producer with a total output of 61 million tons, India with 19 million tons, the United States with 12.6 million tons, Turkey with 12.1 million tons, and Egypt with 6 million tons. In everyday life, tomatoes are often used as a healthy plant and served on various food menus in the world.


8. Cassava/ Manihot utilissima

Cassava is a plant from the Euphorbiaceae family originating from South America and has been cultivated for tens of thousands of years ago in Brazil and Paraguay. Until now this plant is one of the most popular types of plants in the world. Until 2019, the production of this commodity reached 303 million tons with a planted area of 27 million hectares. Geographically, Africa is the center of cassava production with more than 60% of the world’s total production of about 169 million tonnes of cassava produced from this continent. If viewed from the production of each country in 2018, Nigeria, Thailand, Congo, Ghana, and Brazil are some of the world’s largest producers of cassava. Nigeria is the largest with a production of 59 million tons, Thailand with 31 million tons, Congo with 29 million tons, Ghana with 20 million tons, and Brazil with 17 tons.


7. Oil Palm / Elaeis guineensis

Oil palm is one of the most popular crops in Southeast Asian countries, especially in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The three countries mentioned above are the largest palm oil-producing countries in the world. When viewed based on the 2019 statistics, the production of palm oil fruit (Palm oil fruit) reached 410 million tons with a planted area of 28 million hectares. Some of the largest producing countries for this commodity are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nigeria, and Colombia. According to FAO data for 2018, palm oil production from Indonesia reached 115 million tonnes, Malaysia at 98 million tonnes, Thailand at 15 million tonnes, Nigeria at 7 tonnes, and Colombia at 5.8 million tonnes.


6. Kedelai/ Soybean/ Glicine max

Soybeans are one of the most widely produced plants of the Fabaceae family in the world. This plant originates from the East Asia region and is widely used as raw material for various foods such as tofu, soy milk, and tempeh (Indonesia). Most of the production of this plant is located in the Americas with a total production reaching 800 million tons or about 80% of the world’s total soybean production. The United States, Brazil, Argentina, China, and India are some of the countries with the largest soybean production in the world. The United States produces approximately 123 million tons of soybeans, Brazil with 117 million tons, Argentina with 37 million tons, China with 14 million tons, and India with 13 million tons.


5. Potato/ Solanum tuberosum L.

Potatoes are one of the most widely grown tuberous plants from the Solanaceae family. In accumulation, the planting of this crop has reached 17 million hectares with a production of up to 370 million tons in 2019. China, India, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States are some of the largest potatoes producing countries in the world. So far, many processed foods come from potatoes such as mass potatoes, french fries, and various other processed foods.


4. Wheat/  Triticum

Wheat is one of the most cultivated crops by humans in the world in 2019. Its total production in the form of wheat seeds in 2019 reached 765 million tons worldwide with a total planted area of 215 million hectares. The area for wheat cultivation was the largest in the world in 2018 according to data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) than other species of plants. Many people in the world depend on the availability of wheat seeds. The output of this plant is widely used/processed into flour which will be used as raw material for bread, biscuits, pasta, and various other foods.

Geographically, the continent of Asia, Europe, and America is the largest producer. The Asian continent produces 328 million tonnes or contributes 44% of the world’s total wheat production, Europe is the second-largest region with a production of 242 million tonnes or 33% of the world’s wheat production and the Americas 113 million tonnes or 15% of the world’s wheat. In terms of country, China, India, Russia, and the United States are the largest wheat-producing countries in the world. In 2018, China produced 113 million tons, India 99 million tons, Russia 72 million tons, and the United States (USA) 51 million tons.



3. Paddy/ Oryza sativa

Rice is one of the most widely cultivated crops globally, and this is the most widely grown on the Asian continent. This type of plant comes from the Poaceae / Graminae family which probably originated from India or Indochina. Rice, which is the output of this plant, is widely used as a staple food for people in the Asian continent. In 2019, the output of this plant, rice, reached 755 million tons with an area of 162 million hectares. The Asian continent is still the center with production reaching 705 million tons when viewed from its production. In terms of countries in 2018, China, India, and Indonesia are some of the countries with the largest production bases. China produced 212 million tons, India 172 million tons, and Indonesia 83 million tons.


2. Maize / Zea Mays

Corn is one of the most cultivated plants from the Poaceae / Graminae family in the world. In 2019, world production for this commodity reached 1.4 billion tonnes with a planted area of 197 million hectares worldwide. This plant is widely used as food for humans, livestock (ruminants and poultry), and Ethanol. In terms of producing countries, the United States, China, and Brazil were the largest producers of maize in 2018. Corn production in the United States was 392 million tons, China 257 million tons, and Brazil 82 million tons.


1. Sugarcane/  Saccharum officinarum

Sugarcane is a popular sweetener crop in the world originating from the Austronesian Region. In 2019, the production of this plant reached 1.9 billion tons with a total planted area of 26 million hectares worldwide. In 2018, Sugarcane is considered to be one of the most produced crops when measured in terms of the output weight of this crop. The Americas and Asia Region are the largest production centers for this plant. The Americas region produces 1 billion tonnes of sugarcane and Africa 750 million tonnes of sugarcane. If viewed from the countryside, Brazil, India, and Thailand are the top 3 largest producers of sugarcane in the world. In 2018, Brazil’s sugarcane production reached 746 million tons, India at 376 million tons, and China at 108 million tons.


Source :

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 2019. Accessed via http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QC/visualize on May 6th, 2021

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