Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa and provides one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.
It is the golden go-to grain around April with Hindu New Year celebrations adding colour and flavour around the globe. (Lentils also feature in many festivities with its coin-like shape hinting at future prosperity.) A rice dish called Chitranna (also known as yellow rice) is very popular for the New Year with its characteristic yellow colouring and nutty, aromatic flavouring. It is prepared by mixing cooked rice with a special seasoning called Oggarane or Gojju. Flavours are provided by mustard seeds, fried lentils, peanuts, curry leaves, garlic, chillies, onion and lemon juice and turmeric imparts the rich and bright colouring.
Australian history: Rice has a rich history in Australia and was first cultivated by the Chinese around the 1850s during the Gold Rush. The first recorded cultivation of rice is listed as 1906 in the South-East Australian region of Australia with the first commercial crops appearing in the 1920’s. World War II had a large impact on the rice industry as rice was deemed a commodity and all crops came under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth government, leaving no rice left for everyday consumption. The Rice Production Committee was formed as a result of these events which encouraged the cultivation in the Murray Valley of NSW and Victoria. Since then, cultivation spread to the Murrumbidgee Valley of NSW.
Nutrition information: Brown rice consists of the whole grain; the white grain results when the bran and germ are stripped away. This leads to much of the nutritional value being lost. Brown rice has an advantage in being higher in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Production: Rice is an annual plant in some areas of the world and can be a perennial in other areas, depending on the climate. Once a rice crop is planted, it can continue to re-grow for up to 30 years. Rice is not widely grown in Australia as you are required to obtain a special licence for cultivation. Once harvested, the remaining moisture in the soil is used to grow a second crop - typically a wheat plant - or opened up as a pasture for livestock for the remainder of the year.
Rice is the second most produced crop in the world (behind maize, also known as corn)
In Thailand, over half of the labour force is involved in rice production in some way
There are over 40,000 varieties of rice grown on every continent besides Antarctica