Know about Rice

Throughout history rice has been one of man's most important foods. Today, this unique grain helps sustain two-thirds of the world's population. It spells life for billions of people and is deeply embedded in the cultural heritage of their societies.

About four-fifth of the world's rice is produced by small-scale farmers and is consumed locally.

Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for about 100 million households in Asia and Africa.

History of rice cultivation

Rice plants have been traced back to 5000 B.C, but the practice of rice growing is believed to have originated in areas of China, and southern and eastern Asia, in about 2000 B.C. Rice cultivation is considered to have begun in several countries over 6500 years ago. It has been cultivated in China since ancient times and Chinese records of rice cultivation go back 4000 years. Many believe the roots of rice come from 3000 B.C. India, where natives discovered the plant growing in the wild and began to experiment with it. Cultivation and cooking methods are thought to have spread to the west rapidly and by medieval times, southern Europe saw the introduction of rice as a hearty grain. In several Asian languages the words employed for “rice” and “food” is identical.

African rice has been cultivated for 3500 years. In the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe, it started around 800 B.C. Cultivation of rice spread throughout Italy and then France, after the middle of the 15th century, later extending to all the continents during the great age of European exploration. In 1694, rice arrived in South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar. The Spanish brought rice to South America at the beginning of the 18th century.


Some interesting facts about rice

• More than 90 percent of the world's rice is grown and consumed in Asia, where people typically eat rice two or three times daily. Rice is the staple diet of half the world's population.

• Rice farming has been traced back to around 5,000 B.C.

• Hundreds of millions of the poor spend half to three fourth of their incomes on rice alone.

• To plow 1 hectare of land in the traditional way, a farmer and his water buffalo must walk 80 km.

• It takes 5,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of irrigated rice.

• More than 140,000 varieties of cultivated rice (the grass family Oryza sativa) are thought to exist but the exact number remains a mystery.

• Three of the world's four most populous nations are rice-based societies: People's Republic of China, India, and Indonesia.   Together, they account for nearly 2.5 billion people i.e., almost half of the world's population.

• The average Asian consumer eats 150 kg of rice annually while the average European only eats 5 kg.

• Every year, 50 million people are added to Asia's soaring population of 3.5 billion.

• Improved varieties are planted on three fourth of Asia's rice lands and are responsible for producing most of the continent’ rice.

• Asia is home to 250 million rice farms. Most of these are less than 1 hectare.

• Rice is thrown on newly married couples as a symbol of fertility, luck and wealth.

• 65 kilos of rice are milled annually for every person on earth.