Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's talk about "rice"

Let's talk about "rice"

The planting of rice is often a labour-intensive process
Unpolished rice with bran.

Japanese short-grain rice

Rice is a cereal foodstuff which forms an important part of the diet of many people worldwide and as such it is a staple food for many.
Domesticated rice comprises two species of food crops in the Oryza genus of the Poaceae ("true grass") family: Asian rice, Oryza sativa is native to tropical and subtropical southern Asia; African rice, Oryza glaberrima, is native to West Africa.

The name wild rice is usually used for species of the different but related genus Zizania, both wild and domesticated, although the term may be used for primitive or uncultivated varieties of Oryza.
Rice is grown as a monocarpic annual plant, although in tropical areas it can survive as a perennial and can produce a ratoon crop and survive for up to 20 years.Rice can grow to 1–1.8 m tall, occasionally more depending on the variety and soil fertility. The grass has long, slender leaves 50–100 cm long and 2–2.5 cm broad. The small wind-pollinated flowers are produced in a branched arching to pendulous inflorescence 30–50 cm long. The edible seed is a grain (caryopsis) 5–12 mm long and 2–3 mm thick.

Rice is a staple food for a large part of the world's human population, es- pecially in tropical Latin America, and East, South and Southeast Asia, making it the second-most consumed cereal grain. A traditional food plant in Africa, Rice has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. Rice provides more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans. In early 2008, some governments and retailers began rationing supplies of the grain due to fears of a global rice shortage.

Rice cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is very labor-intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water for cultivation. On the other hand, mechanized cultivation is extremely oil-intensive, more than other food products with the exception of beef and dairy products. Rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain. Although its species are native to South Asia and certain parts of Africa, centuries of trade and exportation have made it commonplace in many cultures.

The traditional method for cultivating rice is flooding the fields whilst, or after, setting the young seedlings. This simple method requires sound plan- ning and servicing of the water damming and channeling, but reduces the growth of less robust weed and pest plants that have no submerged growth state, and deters vermin. While with rice growing and cultivation the flooding is not mandatory, all other methods of irrigation require higher effort in weed and pest control during growth periods and a different approach for fertilizing the soil.


There are two species of domesticated rice, Oryza sativa (Asian) and
Oryza glaberrima (African).
Oryza sativa contains two major subspecies: the sticky, short-grained ja- ponica or sinica variety, and the non-sticky, long-grained indica variety.
Japonica are usually cultivated in dry fields, in temperate East Asia, upland
areas of Southeast Asia and high elevations in South Asia, while indica are mainly lowland rices, grown mostly submerged, throughout tropical Asia.
Rice is known to come in a variety of colors, including: white, brown, black,
purple, and red.

A third subspecies, which is broad-grained and thrives under tropical conditions, was identified based on morphology and initially called javanica, but is now known as tropical japonica. Examples of this variety include the medium grain “Tinawon” and “Unoy” cultivars, which are grown in the high- elevation rice terraces of the Cordillera Mountains of northern Luzon, Philippines.
Glaszmann (1987) used isozymes to sort Oryza sativa into six groups:
japonica, aromatic, indica, aus, rayada, and ashina.
Garris et al (2004) used SSRs to sort Oryza sativa into five groups; tem- perate japonica, tropical japonica and aromatic comprise the japonica varieties, while indica and aus comprise the indica varieties.


According to the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary (2004) and the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (1988), the word 'rice' has an Indo-Iranian origin. It came to English from Greek óryza, via Latin oriza, Italian riso and finally Old French ris (the same as present day French riz).
It has been speculated that the Indo-Iranian vrihi itself is borrowed from a Dravidian vari (< PDr. *warinci)or even a Munda language term for rice, or the Tamil name arisi (    ) from which the Arabic ar-ruzz, from which the Portuguese and Spanish word arroz originated.

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