In Colombia, rice occupies first place in terms of economic value among short-cycle crops. Colombia is the second largest rice producer in Latin America and the Caribbean. Colombia is also the host country of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Latin American Fund for Irrigated Rice (FLAR).
The country has two distinct production systems: mechanized and traditional (or manual). Mechanized rice represents 95 percent of the rice area and 98 percent of production, most of it on the central and the eastern plains. The remaining rice areas - the traditional upland rice systems - employ almost the same number of people as the mechanized systems. Mechanized rice farms are large and have good production facilities, while traditional upland rice is planted in association with perennial and annual crops.
The main rice seasons are from March-April to July-August, and the second season from August-October to January-February. Improved varieties of indica rice have been released for production.
Rice is the primary source of calories and protein for the low income group; which accounts for about 20% of the country’s population. The national average per capita rice consumption in 2000 was 45.3 kg of brown rice. In addition to local production, Colombia has to import additional rice to meet demand. There are many rice dishes in the country, and the empanada de tofu y arroz is one of the most popular appetizers.