Characteristics of rice plant
What is rice?
Rice (Oryza sativa) is a Gramineae plant very famous for its seeds. Rice grain is the second food in the world after wheat, and the first in Asia. Nations so inhabited as China or India essentially base their feeding on this food. We can say that half of the world-wide population almost depends on this cereal.
Rice is a plant of the family of the wheat or oats that can get to reach up to 1.8 ms of height. Like them, on the inside, it presents a stem in the form of a hollow cane, except for the knots. The leaves are lanceolate, with tapered endings and parallel venation.
The most significant part are the spikes, formed by a deciduous panicle where the seeds or grains of rice are found. They are actually caryopsis with a very high content of starch in the endosperm (white beans) surrounded by a hard clear brown cover, known as rice bran, which is externally protected by a clear andd papyraceous cover.
Origins of rice
The origin of rice is located in Asia. There is evidence of its cultivation in China 7000 years ago, about 4000 years in India and about 500 years later in Indonesia. What is certain is is that it began to be cultivated in the tropics of Asia and from there, it adapted to other areas; it is not known when it exactly entered in Europe although it is thought that adventurers who traded with rice brought into East Europe about 800 BC. The Muslims introduced it in Spain with its invasion and, from there, it spread to Italy and France.
Varieties of rice
Many varieties of rice exist but the majority of them come from two wild species. The main one is the Oriza species sativa, which is the Asian species and where the majority of varieties from around the world come from. Another species is the Oriza glaberrima, from the delta of Niger in Africa. The latter is much more restricted because its scope extends from its area of origin to Senegal.
Rice is still produced in far greater proportion in Asia. In 1997 there were about 558 million tons worldwide of which 510 million were produced in Asia. The main producing country of the world is China that produces more of 30% of the world-wide population. China and India produce 50% of all global rice. Ranked by importance of production, we would mention the following countries on every continent::
Rice production in the world
Main producing countries of rice in the world
– Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Japan (the main producing countries of the world)
– Europe: Italy, Spain, Russia, Greece and Portugal.
– America: The United States, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Argentina
– Africa: Egypt, Nigeria, Madagascar and the Ivory Coast.
Its success as first nutritional plant of Asia is due to the fact that the rice is a much more productive species that other cereals. On the one hand it allows to realise several harvests every season, on the other hand the productivity by cultivated hectare is superior. This made the Eastern cultures chose rice over wheat, barley or millet, cereals that they also knew and could have exploited.
More information on rice in the listing above