Did you know that rice consumption is actually predicted to increase more by almost 50% in the next five years? It’s time to know more about where and how rice is grown.
Rice is perhaps one of the most consumed products worldwide and its demand is increasing by the day. But, do you know where and how rice is grown? Let’s take a closer look at rice production in this new post!
A Brief History of Rice
More than half of the world’s total population consumes rice on a daily or weekly basis so it’s hard to imagine the world without rice and its other sub-products.
There are many other crops we can eat but it still feels empty without rice. More than 5,000 years ago, rice cultivation began in China and later spread throughout the world in the 17th century.
Rice history is very rich that it even became a culture in most parts of Asia. It thrives in a wide range of environments and weather conditions and is productive in many situations such as water source and altitude.
Where is Rice Grown?
Before, rice was only grown in Asia and is then exported to various countries where it is demanded.
Fortunately, technology is evolving and so rice production has become easier, widespread, and better.
Anywhere in the world now can actually plant rice as long as they got fertile lands, good technology, and dedicated farmers.
Today India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, The Philippines, Cambodia, and Pakistan are the top 10 rice-producing countries with China and India covering half of the total productions
How Is Rice Grown?
Rice is grown in irrigated low-land, rainfed low-land, and rainfed upland and is now possible anywhere in the world.
Compared to other crops, rice is planted in most parts of the world and involves different approaches. Today, modern technology such as automation is now being integrated into rice farming.
The United States is among the western countries that have successfully grown rice and studied the process of growing to make it even more sufficient for them and the world.
There are 7 stages of production that rice needs to undergo:
- Preparation – The soil is plowed and irrigated to prepare for planting.
- Planting – Before the rice is planted in the fields, the seeds are first soaked in water and then planted in nursery beds. In Asia, rice seedlings are harvested after 30-50 days (depending on the variety and location) from the beds and then transplanted to the fields.
- Harvesting – Usually 3 months after planting, rice is then ready to be harvested either by hand or through mechanized harvesters.
- Drying – After the rice grains are harvested, they are then dried in order to reduce the moisture content of up to 18-22%.
- Hulling – Traditionally, rice grains are rolled or ground in between stones to remove the hull. Modern rice farming uses automation in most rice milling centers. Once the hulling process is completed, rice grains are now turned into brown rice.
- Milling – Brown rice is then milled into several times to make it refined and polished to make it white rice.
- Enriching – Since the milling process removes the essential nutrients and minerals from the rice grains. Enriching is then made to restore the lost nutrients.
The stages also depend on the rice variety and the production location. Rice particularly grown in the United States add herbicides and fertilizers plus modern methods like crop rotation and farming equipment to gain more and better yields.
While most rice-producing countries especially in Asia, still prefer to use the traditional and cultural methods.
Apart from the usual grain we see, rice is also turned into different sub-products. Its hays are used for livestock beddings while oil is extracted from the rice brans.
3 Types of Rice Productions
Have you seen a rice field? These are mostly flatlands that are cultivated and planted with seeds.
The green leaves will turn golden yellow after a few months and are now ready for harvesting.
However, rice is not just planted in rural fields but rather in varying land types and conditions.
Here are the 3 types of rice productions:
Low-land Rice Production
Currently, there is an estimate of 80 million hectares of watered lowland rice that produces 75% of the total rice production in the world.
Low-land rice is grown in fields or paddies, which are enclosed by a small soil ridge to keep the water in.
Irrigated low-land rice farming is actually centuries old and found to be one of the most sustainable agricultural systems in the world.
Rainfed Low-Land Rice Production
There are about 60 million hectares of rainfed low-land rice that supply about 20% of the total rice production in the world today.
Meager countries in South Asia, portions of Southeast Asia, and the majority of Africa produce rainfed low-land rice.
However, there is a low productivity rate in rainfed low-land rice areas due to difficult and challenging environments and weather conditions. They typically have very low yields of about 1–2.5 t/ha.
Rainfed Upland Rice Production
Upland rice production is pretty common in most parts of Asia and it accumulates 2/3 of the world’s total rice production.
Countries like Bangladesh, China, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia are the main rainfed upland rice producers which cover around 14 million hectares of land.
However, the productivity rate is very low with yields of approximately 1 t/ha or about 4% only of the world’s total rice production.
Rice is a vital part of our history and culinary chronicles. It is currently grown throughout the world with crops and cultivation ranging from where the rice is produced.
Understanding where and how this important crop is grown will make us appreciate rice more. In this post, we have discussed the different process of rice farming from planting down to harvesting.
Currently, urban rice farming is also being tested in some parts of the world where farming and industrialization go hand in hand.
I hope this post will enlighten you on how vital it is to appreciate rice, so the next time you have it on your plate, you’ll never see it the same way again.