Rice

Wild rice seeds are said to have been planted first in South-east Asia over 7,000 years ago. It was then cultivated for food in the watery deltas of Bangladesh, Burma and Vietnam from where the seeds were brought to China and Indonesia by traders. From there, rice was introduced to other countries in Asia, the Middle East and southern Europe and to the United States in the 17th century. Today, rice is grown in over 89 countries in the world and provides about 50 percent of the daily calorie intake of more than half of the world's population.

Rice is a grass that grows more easily in the tropics. It is believed that mutations must have caused rice to change from a semi aquatic plant to one that grows in water. Rice can grow in diverse environments. However, its growth is faster and more vigorous in wet and warm conditions. The rice plant has a main stem and many tillers that range from 0.6 to 6 meters (floating rice) in height. The tiller produces a panicle that can have about 50 to 300 flowers that turn into grains.

In the tropics, insect pests in rice include stemborers, leaf folders, rice bugs, armyworms and cutworms and more recently, brown planthoppers. Natural enemies in a balanced rice ecosystem should be sufficient to provide good control of populations of the insect pests but when chemical pesticides are used, they can cause a disruption in the balance and result in outbreaks. IPM in rice includes the use of resistant varieties, biological control, cultural practices. Diseases caused by fungus, bacteria and virus sometimes cause yield losses but the incidence can be reduced with good management.

More information about rice can be found in the Community Based Rice IPM Programme Development: A Facilitator's Guide.

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  1. General Information: Origin, distribution etc.