Top Regions Around The World Where Rice Is Grown and Consumed

March 07, 2022

If you've ever wondered what the top rice producing regions worldwide are, then read this post to know more about them.

Rice is a staple food to more than half of the world’s population. Its ability to thrive in tropical climate conditions makes it an ideal food crop to grow and eat in many countries in monsoon Asia and in West Africa. On top of this, rice is steadily becoming a more popular food crop in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Top rice-producing regions around the world

Top Regions Around The World Where Rice Is Grown and Consumed


    When it comes to planting rice, the methods used in many of these places around the world are those that have traditionally been practiced for centuries. Rice cultivation typically utilizes a plot of land and plenty of water, and it relies heavily on human labor, especially in less-industrialized areas. However, many developed agricultural communities have also turned to industrial-scale rice farming and now use advanced technologies and methodologies.

    Below are the top rice-producing regions and countries in the world, as well as the leading consumers of this very important food crop.

    Asia


    Asia is the leading producer and consumer of rice. With the moniker “rice-producing Asia,” the continent accounts for roughly 90% of the world’s rice production. China and India are the two largest producers of rice globally, while other Asian countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand also consistently appear on the list of top rice-producing countries in the world.

    Farmers planting rice in a ricefield
    Photo by Văn Long Bùi from Pexels

    As the top producer of rice, Asia is also the leading exporter of the crop. India accounts for roughly 30% of global exports of rice, while Vietnam and Thailand consistently rank second and third respectively.

    In terms of consumption, rice accounts for more than 50% of the caloric intake of most Asian households. However, the frequency of rice consumption can vary between high-income and low-income countries. For low-income countries, rice is enjoyed relatively equally by different socio-economic classes.

    High-income countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and even Hong Kong have a declining rate of rice consumption due to the ever-growing list of food options among the populace, many of whom choose to focus on consuming more meat and vegetables. Countries like China, Malaysia, and Thailand, which are considered middle-income countries, also appear to be following the same trend.

    People in middle to low-income countries such as the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh continue to enjoy rice in their diet, showing a growth in their consumption patterns. Other countries like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, on the other hand, are exhibiting a decline in rice consumption, but at rates that are at a slower pace compared to high-income countries.

    Africa


    In Africa, rice production has grown over the years, with Western Africa producing around 40% of rice more than any subregion. Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, and Madagascar have the highest individual production rates.

    Rice grains
    Photo from pexels.com

    That being said, Africa consumes more rice than they produce. Although rice has been the staple food for most of Western Africa for more than 50 years, rice consumption in the continent has only grown drastically in relation to rates of production, with other regions in the continent now also consuming rice more than ever before. Factors that affect the rising levels of consumption are urbanization and changes in family occupational structures, with more women joining the workforce in recent years.

    Before, rice was typically reserved only for special occasions, but with urbanization and affordable rice imports from Asia, many people in Africa can now eat it every day. The grain is also preferable to tuber crops and cassava due to its convenient preparation methods and ability to be stored for long periods.

    Despite the growing rate of rice production in the continent, rice farmers in Africa are unable to meet the rapidly increasing consumer demand for the food crop. As a solution, Africa now imports most of its rice to meet the growing demand.

    Latin America


    Rice production in Latin America is focused on tropical countries of the region, with Brazil being the largest producer of the grain, followed by Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. Despite the region’s ability to produce rice, Latin America is also a net importer of rice like Africa.

    With rice consumption rising in the region by as much as 40% over the last two decades, rice is becoming the fastest-growing staple food in Latin America. The grain now supplies most of the caloric requirements of people in countries like Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Costa Rica, as well as those in Caribbean countries such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

    Despite the growth of rice consumption in the region, however, consumption patterns have not reached the levels of Asian countries due to Latin America’s unique culinary traditions. Local cuisines typically prominently feature other food crops, such as wheat, beans, and maize.

    Oceania


    Rice consumption in the Pacific Islands has also grown over the years. Leading consumers include the Solomon Islands, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Most of their rice is imported, while a small amount of rice production is done in Papua New Guinea.

    Rice Production in the Developed World


    The United States has five rice-farming states, namely Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Aside from consuming 80% of their produce, Americans also export their rice to more than 120 countries around the world.

    Rice and meat
    Photo by Mumtahina Tanni from Pexels

    In Europe, rice has sociocultural and ecological importance despite not being a staple food in the continent. The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulates rice production in Europe, which means rice cultivation is financially incentivized in addition to requiring environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Italy is the leading producer of rice in the region, followed by Spain and Russia.

    Aside from these countries, Australia also follows mostly industrial farming practices for rice production. However, their rice production has steadily declined due to recurring periods of drought.

    Epilogue


    A staple food for more than 3.5 billion people globally, rice continues to be produced and consumed at ever-increasing rates. 

    While challenges like climate change, diminishing water resources, lack of access to agricultural inputs, and labor-related issues hound farmers all over the world, improving technologies and methodologies are also helping more and more rice producers achieve economies of scale. 

    This will certainly help in ensuring the continuing growth of rice production–and food security in general–in most places around the world.

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