Some facts about rice

When and where did farmers first start growing rice?
The first rice may have been grown in East and South Asia as long as 15,000 years ago, when people began to settle in river deltas and domesticated wild rice.

Where is rice grown today?
Practically everywhere, except Antarctica! Rice is grown on flooded land and on dry land, in tropical rain forests of Africa and in arid deserts of the Middle East, on coastal plains and on the Himalayan mountains.

How much rice is produced in the world?
In the year 2003, the world produced about 589 million tonnes of paddy rice. Most of that - about 534 million tonnes was grown in Asia.

How much land is used to grow rice?
In 2002, it is estimated that rice fields covered almost 1.5 million square km of land. Again, most of those fields are in Asia - around 1.3 million square km

How many types of rice are there?
Scientists believe there are 140,000 varieties of cultivated rice, but no one knows the exact number.

How long does it take for rice to grow?
It takes between 3 and 6 months for a rice plant to reach maturity, depending on the variety and where it is grown.

How much water does it take to produce rice?
On average, farmers need 2,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of rice.

Is rice an important food?
Yes. When all developing countries are considered together, rice provides 27% of people's energy intake and 20% of their dietary protein.

See also Graindell.com, the Kids site of the International Rice Research Institute
How much rice do people eat?
That depends on the country. In Myanmar, people eat an average of half a kilogram of rice every day. The average European consumes much less, only about 3 kg per YEAR.

Which countries consume the most rice?
Three of the world's four most populous nations use rice as their staple food - China, India and Indonesia. Together, these countries have 2,500 million people.

Which country exports the most rice?
Thailand exports the most - about 7.6 million tons a year. Viet Nam is second, with 3.7 million tonnes, followed by the USA is second, with 2.6 million tonnes.

What else is rice used for, apart from eating?
Rice and its by-products are used for making straw and rope, paper, wine, crackers, beer, cosmetics, packing material, and even toothpaste.

What is the difference between white and brown rice?
Brown rice is unpolished whole grain rice that is produced by removing only the outer husk. It becomes white rice when the bran layer is stripped off in the milling process.

Is brown rice better for you than white rice?
Compared with white rice, brown rice is more nutritious because it contains bran, which is a source of fibre, oils, B vitamins, and important minerals.

  • Think you know more about rice now? To test your memory, now take our Rice Quiz...

    Sources: FAO, Graindell, IRRI, Asia Rice Foundation, and Indonesia Rice Foundation.