Rice is among the three leading food crops of the world, with maize (corn) and wheat being the other two. All three directly provide no less than 42% of the world’s required caloric intake and, in 2009, human consumption was responsible for 78% of the total usage of produced rice. More than 3.5 billion of the world’s population think of rice as their staple food, which translates to at least half of the people living in the world. Because of this, experts do not see a future decline of rice consumption, especially among African and Asian countries.
Leading Producers Lie In Asia
Asian countries produce the most rice worldwide, while countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East having shown considerable increase in rice consumption and demand. The top 10 rice producing countries in the world today are India, China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Pakistan. These countries are also among the top rice consumers of the world, and combine to account for around 90% of the world’s rice consumption. Both figures have been on the rise in the last couple of decades, and experts believe that there will be little or no decline in these numbers in the coming years.
In countries located in other regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, rice is considered the fastest-growing staple food, with the annual per capita rice consumption nearly doubling since the 1970s and onwards. A few decades ago, both urban and rural residents of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa were only eating rice during special occasions. In recent years, however, they have switched to eating it daily, opting for it over other, native crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, and yams. Examples of countries exhibiting this change are Niger, Tanzania, and Nigeria, where populations and incomes have been shown to be on the rise over the past couple of decades.
In the Caribbean and Latin America, an increase of about 40% has been observed in rice consumption during the last twenty years. Again, this is attributed to steadily increasing incomes, as well as continued population growth. Another region showing a significant increase of rice consumption is the Middle East, as well as the United States and members of the European Union. The latter’s increase is attributed partly to immigration from countries where rice is more often consumed, along with the increased globalization of the food availability and tastes.
Rice Still on the Rise
Demand for rice is expected to continue to increase in coming years, at least up until 2035. According to a comprehensive study conducted by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (or FAPRI), the world’s demand for milled rice can be expected to rise to 496 million tons in 2020, from 439 million tons in 2010. By the year 2035, this requirement will likely further rise up to an estimated 555 million tons. Asians are expected to account for 67% of the aforementioned increase, this despite an expected decline of consumption in such countries as India and China, as they explore other types of crops to incorporate into their daily diets. Not surprisingly, rice will account for almost half of these countries food expenditures, not only for the extreme poor, but also for those of mid-level and high income statuses.
Top Rice Producing Countries
|Rank||Country||Rice Produced (millions of hectares)|