History of Rice
Rice- “Historically” ours
It’s a ‘Ricey’ affair
While eating a delicious pot of biryani; have you ever thought- when exactly do we get these nutritious grains in our fields? Where was it first cultivated? Well, we all know, rice has been a part of our lives for ages. This vital carbohydrate-rich diet has not only made its place in our tummies but also the very existence of mankind.
There are many stories regarding its earliest cultivation but the most well-known says rice (Scientific name: Oryza Sativa) agriculture began in China, near the Yangzte river around 2500 BC, and then spread to other countries including India, Japan, Korea, Shri Lanka, and later in America, Greece, and Australia.
But our Indian archeologist has something different to say- As per them, rice farming in India began much before China. Some studies suggest that rice cultivation first happened during the Indus Valley civilization and then arrived in China and other nations. Researchers believe that people of the Indus Valley were able to maintain a sustainable rice farming culture and followed multi-cropping strategies across both seasons, later allowing it to spread throughout the world.
What is interesting to know is Asian rice is one of the oldest crop species to be found. And they have two subspecies also-Japonica and Indica. Some historians believe that the Indica type of rice was first found in North-Eastern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, and the Japonica type of rice was domesticated from wild rice in Southern China which was later introduced to India. This debate is endless but it is said that perennial wild kinds of rice are still being cultivated in Assam and Nepal.
Researchers have found evidence of autonomous domestication of rice in India that predates China by approximately 400 to 800 years. The credit goes to the Lahuradewa lake in the Gangetic plain. The team used 28 different core samples from the lake bed for their observations and then came to this conclusion.
Another interesting story about rice is that when Alexander the Great came to India in between 327 to 344 B. C., he took this amazing grain back to Greece. It is believed that rice spread gradually throughout Europe and Northern Africa after that. Isn’t that amazing?
Famous Swiss botanist Alphonse Louis Pierre De Condolle believes that India is the center of rice origin. He believed that each crop had a single region of origin.
Scientists also talk about another species of rice which is Oryza Glaberrima and the Delta of Niger River in Africa is estimated to be the primary center of its origin.
Today, the majority of all rice produced comes from China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, and Japan. Asian farmers still account for more than 90 percent of the world's total rice production and 30% comes from China only. And we are happy to have this multi-talented grain on our plate!