Origins and Spread of Rice Crop

Rice Fields

Rice is one of the world’s most important food crops. Rice is the chief food item for about half the world’s population mainly in Asia, Africa and central and South America. Leading rice-growing countries today are China, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Rice is also grown and consumed in most other parts of the world including Australia, Europe and North America.

Evidence shows that rice was domesticated about 8,200–13,500 years ago in the Pearl River valley and the Yangtze River valley regions of Ancient China. Rice cultivation expanded into Southeast Asia, India and Nepal about 3000 BC.

Rice terraces carved into the mountains 2000 years ago are still used today in the Ifugao province of Filippines to grow rice. The terraces are irrigated by an ancient irrigation system using the water from the rainforests above the terraces.

Rice was found in a grave at Susa in Iran dating back to 100 AD, indicating that rice usage spread to Middle East, likely from the Indian continent. Ancient records indicate that Greeks learned of rice when Alexander the Great invaded India around 325 BC.

Rice was introduced to Europe when the Moors conquered Spain in A.D. 700’s. The Spaniards brought rice to Italy during the 1400’s. Spanish colonists also took it to the West Indies and South America in the early 1600.

United States has its first introduction to rice in the late 1600’s. According to a legend a ship carrying rice from Madagascar took refuge in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor after being damaged by a storm. The ship’s captain offered a sack of seed rice to the governor of the colony. South Carolina began producing rice since that time. Rice production slowly spread to other states. Although the Carolina rice is the most popular, higher rice-producing states in U.S. today are Arkansas, California, Texas and Louisiana.

About the Author:

Amita Vadlamudi worked in the IT industry supporting mainframes and distributed systems. She wrote in languages such as Cobol and Assembler, and her work included building images of the Solaris operating system. Beyond professional obligations, Amita Vadlamudi studies history and particularly enjoys learning about the Roman Empire and Greek mythology.

Amita Vadlamudi