Egypt is the largest rice producer in the Near East region. Rice production was probably introduced into Egypt in the 7th Century. Today, rice production takes place only in the Lower Valley of the Nile River. Due to the intrusion of sea-water, about 25 to 30% of the land in the lower Nile Valley is affected by different degrees of salinity. In these areas, rice production helps to leach the salt from upper soil layers and thus reclaim the land for agricultural activities.
Most of the planted rice varieties are japonica. The high solar radiation, the long days and the cool nights between May and September are favourable to a high rice yield. In fact, the Egyptian rice yield is one of the highest in the world (9.1 tonnes per hectare in 2001). Because of limited water resources, the government of Egypt has tried to limit rice cultivation. But cultivation has continued to expand due to rice production's high profits, and Egypt is today a major rice exporter.
Per capita rice consumption in 2000 was 58.6 kg of brown rice and provided about 410 calories and 7.9 grams protein per person per day. Many rice dishes have been perfected by the Egyptians. The Ruzz mu'ammar bi-I-tuyur, or baked rice with milk and pigeon, is regularly served in restaurants in major cities such as Alexandria.