RICE

The origin of rice is buried in obscurity and the depths of time. Till today, we do not know when it was first discovered and domesticated and perhaps this is one fact we will never come to know. In the long and turbulent history of the human race, one of the most important developments that led to the development of civilizations was the domestication of rice, for this one single variety of grain has fed and nourished more people over a longer period of time than any other crop.

Rice or Oryza Sativa (as botanists prefer to call it) is not a tropical plant but is still associated with a wet, humid climate. It is generally believed that the domestication of rice began somewhere in the Asian arc. From its place of birth, lost forever in the mists of time, the plant and its grain spread all over the world.

According to some schools of thought, It is probably a descendent of wild grass that was cultivated in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas and the upper tracts of the Irrawady and Mekong river basins. Another school of thought believes that the rice plant may have originated in southern India and then spread to the north of the country.

From India, the plant spread to China and then onwards to Korea, the Philippines (about 2000 B.C.), Japan and Indonesia (about 1000 B.C.). The Persians are known to have been importers of this grain. From there its popularity spread to Mesopotamia and Turkestan. It is believed that when Alexander the Great invaded India in 327 B.C., one of the priced possessions he carried back with him was rice.

Arab travelers took it to Egypt, Morocco and Spain and from there it traveled all across Europe. The Portugese and Hollanders took rice to their colonies in West Africa. From Africa it traveled to America through the 'Columbian Exchange' of natural resources - rice being a gift from the Old World to the New. Rice has been cultivated in the United States of America for the last three hundred years.

It was in China that the process of puddling soil and transplanting seedlings was likely refined. With the development of puddling and transplanting, rice became truly domesticated. In China, the history of rice in the river valleys and low-lying areas is older than its history as a dryland crop. In Southeast Asia, by contrast, rice was originally grown under dryland conditions in the uplands, and later it came to occupy the vast river deltas. Migrants from South China or perhaps South East Asia carried the traditions of wetland rice cultivation to the Philippines during the second millennium B.C., and Deutero-Malays may have carried the practice to Indonesia about 1500 B.C. From China or Korea, the crop was introduced to Japan around 100 B.C.

According to some schools of thought, It is probably a descendent of wild grass that was cultivated in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas and the upper tracts of the Irrawady and Mekong river basins. Another school of thought believes that the rice plant may have originated in southern India and then spread to the north of the country.

The journey of rice around the world has been slow, but once it took root it stayed and became a major agricultural and economic product for the people. In the Indian subcontinent more than a quarter of the cultivated land is given to rice. It is a very essential part of the daily meal in many parts of the country.

The rice grain is treated with honour in the subcontinent and in Asia: for here the failure of the rice crop in not only an economic setback but can also create a famine-like situation. Wastage of rice is viewed rather badly in these societies and superstitions about the grain abound.

install tracking codes