Rice production may have started in Brazil only a few hundred years ago, but today the country is the world's 10th largest rice producer. In Latin America and the Caribbean, Brazil is the largest producer of rice. Nevertheless, Brazil is also a major rice importer.
The State of Rio Grande do Sul is the main centre of rice production. There, rice farming is practiced under a sub-tropical climate on large and completely mechanized farms averaging 200 ha in size. In the nearby state of Santa Catarina, the average farm size is only 10 ha and the use of family manual labour is common. Rice is grown in all Brazilian states with tropical climates. Initially, japonica varieties were introduced, but after 1980 locally bred indica varieties of the IR8-type became dominant.
In the early years of the opening of the Cerrado - or savannah - areas, upland rice was the pioneer crop and occupied most of the total rice area. The area planted with upland rice reached its peak (about 4.5 million ha) in 1988, then steadily declined.
In the year 2000, per capita rice consumption was about 58 kg of brown rice. Rice supplies about 14% of the calories and 10% of the protein in the diet. There are many rice dishes in the country, but Arroz com Feij„o ("rice with beans") is one of the most popular.