Rice is a cereal grain which forms an integral part of meals in most parts of the world. In Asia and Africa, meals are considered incomplete without rice; it is eaten regularly and in large quantities in these regions. Rice also has a cultural importance in many eastern countries, especially India.

Origin of rice

Men have been growing and eating rice for centuries. Researches show that it originated in Southeast Asia in 4000 BC. The domestication of rice began around 9000 years ago. It spread from the Himalayan foothills to southwest China and, thereafter, to the rest of the world.

The rice Crop

Rice is a Rabi crop. There are two types of the rice crop: "Oryza Glaberrima" and "Oryza Sativa". Basically, rice grains are the seeds of these two plants. Being a tropical crop, rice needs a high temperature of around 80 degree Fahrenheit throughout its growing season, which lasts from four to six months. . For this reason, it is not possible to grow rice in areas with a cold climate.

Another important condition for its growth is the abundance of water. It cannot grow without moisture. That is why it is known as a 'water plant'. At least for seventy five days, the crop should be submerged into six inches deep water. Once it reaches a mature stage, some of the water should be drained; and when ripened, the land should be dry.

Rice can be grown on all types of soils, alluvial soil being the ideal choice. It is usually grown on an annual basis.

Rice processing

Once the rice crop is cultivated, the grain husk is removed in rice mills. After processing the seed, the rice is polished to improve its quality. Two types of rice are obtained as the end product, brown rice and white rice. The latter lack some of the nutrients present in brown rice. However, white rice consumption is far more than brown rice consumption.

Furthermore, rice has different qualities. Some of its portion is polished and enhanced by adding different chemicals to it. However, the cheaper qualities are sent to markets without adding any enhancements. Parts of the milled rice are sent to flour mills where they are ground for several purposes, for instance, rice flour is used in many beverages.

Rice as a Food Source

Many people like to eat raw rice, wild and crunchy. But mostly, rice is boiled before it is served. They are famous in many types of cuisines; rice dishes, deserts and drinks are very famous in most Asian and African countries. It is a rich source of protein.

Apart from being a source of food, rice is also used in industries.
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