Rice is the seed of two grass species: Oryza sativa (Asian rice) and Oryza glaberrima (African rice). Although there are two species, there are over 40,000 varieties found across the world. Long grain, Basmati, wild, and jasmine are just some of the popular types of rice. 95% of the world’s rice is eaten by humans and over half of the world’s population is dependent on rice as a staple food. Rice is cooked by boiling and can be eaten on its own, but it is typically eaten alongside main dishes. The countries that consume the most rice are China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. To find out the countries that are the largest producers of rice, read on below:
Rice is grown in all provinces in Thailand. Thailand is famous for growing jasmine rice, which is popular across the world for its stickiness and its popcorn aroma. The country exports around 100,000 tons of its rice to Japan who use it to make crackers and wine. Thailand expects to export between 7-8 million tonnes of rice in 2020. The production of rice contributed to around 15% of Thailand’s agricultural GDP. In 2018/19, the country produced 20.34 million metric tons of milled rice.
Vietnam is one of the largest rice producers in the world. The crop is grown in the rich deltas of the Mekong and Red River in the north and south of the country. 80% of the people who live in the provinces around the Mekong Delta are involved in rice cultivation. Around 82% of Vietnam’s arable land is used to cultivate rice, and in 2018/19, Vietnam produced 27.77 million metric tons of rice and exported 6.6 million metric tons to the Philippines, China and some countries in Africa.
Bangladesh's milled rice production in 2018/19 was estimated at 34.91 million tonnes. The grain is the staple food for approximately 135 million people across the country and the rice sector contributes to half of the country's agricultural GDP and one-sixth of Bangladesh's national income. Bangladesh exports its rice to countries all around the world; in 2017, Sri Lanka purchased 50,000 tonnes. The regions of Aman, Boro and Aus is where the majority of Bangladesh's rice is grown.
Indonesia is the world’s third-largest producer of rice. The production of the seed mostly takes place on the islands of Java and Sumatra, with nearly 60% of the production coming from Sumatra alone. Rice is grown by approximately 77% of all farmers, who typically use a sickle or knife to harvest the crops. In 2018/19, Indonesia produced 36.70 million metric tons of rice. Rice is produced by smallholder farmers rather than state-owned enterprises - 90% of Indonesia’s rice production comes from smallholder farms.
In 2018/19, the total rice production of India exceeded 116 million metric tons. West Bengal is the largest rice producing state in India. In 2016, the state produced 15.75 million tons of rice over a cultivable area of 5.46 million hectares. India is the world’s leading exporter of Basmati rice, with 4.4 million tons exported in 2018-19. It is also the second-largest rice consuming country, with an estimated 100 million metric tons of rice consumed each year. Over 65% of the Indian population eat rice and rice production is the main source of income and employment for over 50 million people.
China is the world’s largest producer of rice. It is also the first country in the world to successfully produce hybrid rice, bred from two different types of plants. In 2018/2019, China produced over 148 million metric tons of milled rice. The crop primarily grows in provinces such as Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei, and Sichuan by the Yangtze River, where almost 95% of China’s rice is grown using traditional methods. Due to a number of factors such as climate change, scarcity of labor, and the overuse of chemicals and fertilizers, the Chinese government and officials will need to establish more sustainable and productive methods for rice farming. Approximately 65% of China’s population consumes rice as a staple food.