History of Rice


Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryzasativa or Oryzaglaberrima. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia. It is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production, after sugarcane and maize.

Rice is one of the oldest known crops to have been cultivated by man. The earliest forms of rice were grown in China around 5000 years back. In fact, the rice paddy was first invented by the Chinese farmers. The rice paddy was grown in an artificial pond, thereby saving water and also helping in killing the weeds. It is also believed that rice roots were discovered in India in 3000 BC, when some native people discovered the plant and began to experiment with it for their personal use. From China, the production of rice soon spread to the other parts of the world, including India, Greece, Southern Europe and many parts of North Africa. In India, people during the Harappan civilization began to grow rice by around 2500 BC. The Spanish brought rice in the beginning of the 18th century to South America.


1. Historians believe that while the Indica variety of rice was first domesticated in the area covering the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas (i.e. north-eastern India), stretching through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China, the japonica variety was domesticated from wild rice in southern China which was introduced to India before the time of the Greeks. Chinese records of rice cultivation go back to 4000 years.

2. Rice is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts. In India there is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together. Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility, hence there is the custom of throwing rice at newlyweds. In India, rice is always the first food offered to the babies when they start eating solids or to husband by his new bride, to ensure they will have children.

3. The earliest remains of cultivated rice in the sub-continent have been found in the north and west and date from around 2000 BC. Perennial wild rice still grows in Assam and Nepal. It seems to have appeared around 1400 BC in southern India after its domestication in the northern plains. It then spread to all the fertile alluvial plains watered by rivers. Cultivation and cooking methods are thought to have spread to the west rapidly and by medieval times, southern Europe saw the introduction of rice as a hearty grain. Some say that the word rice is derived from the Tamil word arisi.

4. Ramayana 2000 BC - Sri Rama stated to Bharata that special care and attention should be given to the farmers, then only prosperity and happiness of the people could be ensured. The Mahabarath (1400 BC), also stated that agriculture, animal husbandry and trade are the ways of life of the people. It was mentioned that large irrigation tanks have been constructed for agriculture purpose.

5. Parashara (400 BC) was the author of Krishi Parashara, which is regarded as highest authority of agriculture. It deals with knowledge and practices relating to agricultural, such as soil classification, land use, manuring, plant protection and agricultural meteorology. It also deals with the care of draught animals and grasses for cattle.

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1. Rice cultivation is the principal activity and source of income for millions of households around the globe, and several countries of Asia and Africa are highly dependent on rice as a source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.

2. Rice is the second largest produced cereal in the world. At the beginning of the 1990s, annual production was around 350 million tons and by the end of the century it had reached 410 million tons.

3. Production is geographically concentrated in Western and Eastern Asia. Asia is the biggest rice producer, accounting for 90% of the world's production and consumption of rice.

4. China and India, which account for more than one-third of global population supply over half of the world's rice. Brazil is the most important non-Asian producer, followed by the United States. Italy ranks first in Europe.

5. The world's major rice-producing countries - including the two most populous nations, China and India - have emphasized the importance of continuing to develop new rice varieties to guarantee Asia's food security and support the region's economic development.

6. Today, rice is grown and harvested on every continent except Antarctica, where conditions make its growth impossible. The majority of all rice produced comes from India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Bangladesh.

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Rice is a grain crop and is not immediately available for cooking at the harvest time. Belonging to the grass family, it needs to be field-dried after being separated from its straw and panicles, cleaned of its chaff and any foreign matter in it & further dried to the required moisture content before it can be processed for it to be edible or dried to be stored away for further processing.

Post-harvest process of rice grains includes field-drying, threshing, shed-drying, cleaning, grading, storing, weighing and milling before making it fit for human consumption.

THRESHING : is the process of beating paddy plants in order to separate the seeds or grains from the straw. To maintain high quality of the harvested grains, it should be threshed immediately after harvesting. Dry the paddy soon after threshing both in the outdoor and the in-door sheds to prevent grains from fermentation if the moisture remains in a heap or bag of grains for too long. Threshing can be done manually or mechanically.

DRYING : is the process that reduces the moisture content of the rice paddy down to a safe-level where rice can be properly milled and put away safely for storage.Once dried, the rice grain, now called rough rice, is ready for processing.

  • Sun drying : is a traditional method of drying the paddy grains by spreading grains on concrete pavements, mats, plastic sheets and on fields.
  • Mechanical drying : is drying grains by ventilating natural or heated air through the grain mass to get moisture evaporated from it.
  • Chemical drying : involves spraying of common salt solution with specific gravity.

PARBOILING : is a pre-milling hydrothermal treatment given to un-hulled rice (rough rice) to improve its milling quality, storability, nutritional value and cooking quality. Three steps involved here – soaking, steaming and drying.

CLEANING : Cleaning is the process to remove rice straw chaff, foreign matters and immature/empty grains within paddy after threshing and drying.

MILLING : is the process wherein the grain is milled through mechanical means to remove the outer skin, hull and bran to reveal the white kernel and endosperm of the grain that is utilized as food product for human consumption.The by-products such as the germ and the brans can also be collected and utilized as a component to the formulation of stock feeds for poultry, other live-stocks and aquaculture.

POLISHING : is the process of removal of bran layer in brown rice. Rice obtained after this process is called raw rice.

GRADING : is the process of sorting the milled rice grains into categories based on the visual observation and moisture content measurements. Following factors are considered for Grading of Milled rice :
Dead rice, broken percentage
Moisture content
Foreign matter
Presence of un-milled paddy

STORAGE : is the process of keeping grains, in bags or in bulk, in a storage place which is designed to protect the stored product from adverse weather, moisture, rodents, birds, insects and micro-organisms.

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