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Organization of Rice Exporting Countries

Rice description
Source : INRA
Rice is a grass "autogame", a tall crop, that is grown more easily in the tropics.  Originally rice was probably cultivated without submersion, but it is believed that mutations led it to become a semi aquatic plant. Although it can grow in diverse environments, it grows faster and more vigorously in wet and warm conditions. This plant develops a main stem and many tillers and may range from 0.6 to 6 meters (floating rice) in height. The tiller bears a ramified panicle that measures between 20 and 30 centimeters wide.
Each panicle has 50 to 300 flowers (floret or spikelet), which form the grains.
The fruit obtained is a caryopsis. Rice presents a great capacity for ramifying.
Rice is a source of magnesium, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus, vitamin B6, zinc and copper. Some varieties have iron, potassium and folic acid. White rice is one of the poorest cereals in proteins; some improved varieties
however may provide 14g of protein per 100g.
Origin and history
In the beginning rice grew wild, but today most countries cultivate varieties belonging to the Oryza type which has around twenty different species. Only two of them offer an agriculture interest for humans:
- Oryza sativa: a common Asian rice found in most producing countries which originated in the Far East at the foot of the Himalayas. O. sativa japonica grew on the Chinese side of the mountains and O. sativa indica on the Indian side. The majority of the cultivated varieties belong to this species, which is characterized by its plasticity and taste qualities.
- Oryza glaberrima, an annual species originating in West Africa, covering a large region extending from the central
Delta of the Niger River to Senegal.
It is believed that rice cultivation began simultaneously in many countries over 6500 years ago. The first crops were observed in China (Hemu Du region) around 5000 B.C. as well as in Thailand around 4500 B.C. They later appeared in Cambodia, Vietnam and southern India. From there, derived species Japonica and Indica expanded
to other Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia. Japonica is an irrigated rice of temperate zone, with medium or short grains, also called round grain, and is a rainfed lowland rice of warm tropical zones. Indica is an irrigated rice of warm tropical zones, with long, thin and
flat grains.
The Asian rice (Oryza sativa) was adapted to farming in the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe around 800 B.C. The Moros brought it to Spain when they conquered the country, near 700 A.D. After the middle of the 15th century, rice spread throughout Italy and then France, later propagating to all the continents during
the great age of European exploration. In 1694 rice arrived in the South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar. The Spanish took it to South America at the beginning of the 18th century.
Between 1500 and 800 B.C., the African species (Oryza glaberrima) propagated from its original center, the Delta of Niger River, and extended to Senegal. However, it never developed far from its original region. Its cultivation even declined in favor of the Asian species, possibly brought to the African continent by the Arabians
coming from the East Coast from the 7th to the 11th centuries.
Rice is the world's most consumed cereal after wheat. It provides more than 50 percent of the daily calories ingested by more than half of the world population. It is so important in Asia that it influenced local language and beliefs. In classical Chinese, the same term refers to both "rice" and "agriculture". In many official languages and local dialectics the verb "to eat" means "to eat rice". Indeed, the words "rice" and "food" are sometimes one
and the same in eastern semantics.
Rice, Georgia's first staple crop, was the most important commercial agricultural commodity in the Lowcountry from the middle of the eighteenth century until the early twentieth century. Rice arrived in America with European and African migrants as part of the so-called Columbian Exchange of plants, animals, and germs. Over time, profits from the production and sale of the cereal formed the basis of many great fortunes in coastal Georgia.
The heart of the United States rice industry lay in the South Atlantic region from the early eighteenth century until the late nineteenth century. After South Carolina, Georgia was the leading producer in this region. Beginning in the 1880s, the center of the U.S. rice industry shifted to the "Old Southwest"—Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas—and later to California as well. Commercial rice production in Georgia and other parts of the South Atlantic region collapsed completely in the first decade of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, its legacy on the landscape and people of coastal
portions of South Carolina and Georgia, and to a lesser extent southeastern North
Carolina and northeastern Florida, has been profound.
Rice Primer

Rice is more than a simple side dish. As the staple food for more than half of the world's population, rice has earned its reputation as an indispensable grain. Rice has been cultivated since at least 5000 B.C. A descendent of a wild grass first cultivated in the foothills of the Himalayas, rice can be grown in a variety of climates and conditions, not just in the wet paddies of water-flooded farm fields as is widely presumed. Very versatile, some types are even tolerant of salt water!
Though large-scale growing methods are often used to produce rice, outside the U.S. and Australia most rice farms are smaller than five acres in size and the crops are planted and harvested by hand using ancient paddy techniques. This style of farming has been proven to be most effective with particular varieties, producing up to three crops each year. The slow-moving water eliminates the need for crop rotation to protect the health of the soil. Another benefit of the old way of rice farming is the natural aquatic eco-system in the flooded fields. Waterfowl, frogs and fish enrich the soil and provide additional food for farm families, making chemical fertilizers and pesticides unnecessary. Only through hard work, community cooperation and time-tested ancient farming practices does this symbiotic relationship provide a reliable and generous crop. For many societies, rice is truly a way of life.

Some Unique Rice Varieties
  • Forbidden Black
    Legend says this rice was originally grown only for the emperors of China. Purple-black in color, it is prizedfor its fragrant aroma, nutty taste and nutritional value.
  • Kalijira
    Tender and sweet, this is known as the "prince of rice." Highly aromatic, similar to Basmati, its tiny grains cook quickly, yet retain a firm, delicate texture. Imported from Bengal.
  • Bhutanese Red
    Grown at 8,000 feet in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, this premium heirloom rice contains trace
  • minerals, resulting in a beautiful russet color and complex, nutty flavor.
  • Black Japonica
    A blend of 25% black short-grain japonica and 75% medium-grain mahogany-red rice. Chewy, but tender
  • with a full flavor that's good in stuffing or rice salads.
  • Wehani™ Rice
    This long grain rice has a red bran layer. Its aroma while cooking is similar to hot buttered popcorn. Chewy
  • and sweet, similar to the flavor of brown Basmati.
  • Wild & Brown Mix
    20% lake-harvested wild rice and 80% long grain brown rice. Parboiled to decrease cooking time. A milder and more economical alternative to wild rice.
  • Wild Rice Blend
    A hearty blend of long grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, Wehani™ , japonica, and wild rice.
Types of Rice
With different grain size, texture and flavor, each variety of rice lends itself better to certain types of dishes than to others. Just think of the diverse characteristics of the rice in favorite foods such as paella, sushi, rice salad or a pilaf.Long Grain
This is a generic classification for rice in which the milled grain is at least three times as long as it is wide. Though common varieties are usually simply labeled "long grain," some specific varieties are: basmati, Patna, Dehra Dun, Calmati, Carolina, Della, Himalayan Red, jasmine, jasmati, Louisiana pecan, American, javanica, bulu, wild pecan, Louisiana popcorn, Persian, ambar-boo, darbari, dom-siah, sadri, rosematta, Texmati, Thai black, Thai red, and Wehani™.
Medium Grain
The generic size classification for rice whose grain is less than three times as long as it is wide. Medium grain rice is sometimes labeled "Short Grain," simply to distinguish it from Long Grain. Again, though common varieties may only be labeled "medium grain," specific types include: japonica, baldo, Turkish, bash ful, Bhutanese Red, mahogany-red, bomba, CalRiso, Camargue, carnaroli, arborio, devzira, Egyptian, Kalijira, gobindavog, Italian, lido, roma, rosa marchetti, vialone, Japanese, sweet, Spanish, Valencia, Calasparra, Thai sticky, Vietnamese red, and Vietnamese cargo.Short Grain
This generic size classification indicates a grain that is less than twice as long as it is wide, yet often Medium Grain and Short Grain are combined into this one category. Once again, common varieties are sometimes simply labeled "short grain," whereas others are more specific, such as: sushi, Balinese black, Balinese purple, CalRose, mochi gome, pearl, gerdeh, and pudding.Polished Rice
Another name for white rice that has been polished to remove the bran and germ.
Parboiled Rice
Slightly yellowish or beige in color, this type of rice cooks more slowly than white rice, yet many prefer its fluffy, separated texture once cooked. It is produced by soaking, boiling or pressure steaming, then drying before it is milled, gelatinizing the starch in the grain and infusing some of the bran's nutrients into the kernel.Converted Rice
This is parboiled rice (see above) that has been further pre-cooked so that it does not take as long to prepare in restaurants or at home.
Instant or Quick Rice
This is simply pre-cooked rice that has been dehydrated and packaged. Though it takes much less time to cook at home, the results are less than favorable in both flavor and texture.
Brown Rice
Also called "whole grain" rice, brown rice is much more nutritious than white rice of any kind. The difference is in the bran, which is the brownish covering of the grain where almost all the nutrients reside. White rice is simply brown rice with the bran removed, followed by polishing. A wide selection of brown rices from basmati to sushi rice is readily available.Wild Rice
Though it's called rice, and cooks much like rice, "wild rice" is not actually rice at all. It is the seed of a long-grain marsh grass native to the area of the northern
Great Lakes. Its nutty flavor, chewy texture and pleasing appearance makes a great addition to rice pilafs or simply cooked along with plain brown rice. 
Nutrition Info
White Basmati Rice, White Jasmine Rice, White Texmati Rice
1/4 cup (dry) contains: (numbers based on Basmati)
4 g
0.66 g
39 g
1 g
0 mg
Brown Rice: Basmati, Texmati, Long Grain, Medium Grain, Short Grain, Sweet Brown
1/4 cup (dry) contains: (numbers based on long grain brown)
3.6 g
1.3 g
35 g
1.6 g
0 mg
Wild Rice
1/4 cup (dry) contains:
5.8 g
0.4 g
30 g
2.4 g
0 mg
Origins of the Georgia Rice Industry
Even though Rice had already risen to prominence in neighboring South Carolina by the time the colony of Georgia was established in 1733, the cereal was not commercially important in Georgia until the 1750s. Indeed, in their original design the founding Trustees of Georgia hoped to create a colony quite unlike South Carolina, with free white European laborers (drawn from the lower classes) constituting the basic workforce in the colony.
The Trustees' original plan—which included a prohibition against slavery—soon fell by the wayside. Many Georgians were aware of the profit possibilities associated with the commercial production of rice on slave plantations in South Carolina, and they realized that under a similar institutional framework coastal Georgia had the potential to offer similar opportunities. At the same time—perhaps even earlier—many ambitious South Carolina rice planters came to the same realization and mounted an aggressive campaign to make Georgia safe for rice and slavery, if not for democracy. By mid-century proslavery Georgians and South Carolinians carried the day. In 1750 the ban on slavery in Georgia was repealed, and with the royal takeover of the colony in 1752, conditions finally became favorable for the establishment in Georgia of a plantation colony based on rice and slaves.
From the start Georgia's rice industry could best be described as a "knock-off" of South Carolina's. Rice cultivation began in South Carolina in the late seventeenth century but did not become deeply entrenched until the second or third decade of the eighteenth century. Recent scholars have demonstrated that Africans and African Americans contributed much more than brute labor to the development of the rice industry that developed along coastal South Carolina and, later, coastal Georgia. More specifically, most scholars now believe that much of the technology involved in rice cultivation in this area originated in rice-producing regions in West Africa and was transferred across the Atlantic by slaves.
During the first decades of serious rice production in Georgia, rice was grown both in inland freshwater swamps in the coastal counties and along the colony's principal tidal rivers. By the mid-1760s migrant South Carolinians and Georgians alike were operating sizable (and profitable) rice plantations not only along the Savannah River but also along the Ogeechee, the Altamaha, and the Satilla. These four rivers, along with the St. Marys, where rice cultivation developed a bit later, were to constitute the principal "rice rivers" over the course of the entire history of rice cultivation in Georgia. Some rice was also grown in other parts of Georgia in later periods, particularly in the decades after the Civil War, though the "tidal zones" of these five rivers became synonymous with the cultivation of rice.

Rice Cultivation
Few crops are more demanding to cultivate than rice, particularly "wet" rice. Arduous cultivation requirements, along with high mortality rates in the mosquito-infested swamps of the Lowcountry, made it difficult to attract white labor into the rice industry. That, in addition to Africans' and African Americans' knowledge about rice cultivation, led profit-hungry white planters in Georgia and other parts of the Southeast to depend almost entirely upon black labor, whether slave or free, throughout the entire history of the industry.
It is difficult today to appreciate fully the amount of work involved in establishing and maintaining the rice economy of coastal Georgia. Swamps had to be drained, cleared, and leveled to make them suitable for agriculture of any type. For tidal cultivation, an elaborate system of irrigation works—levees, ditches, culverts, floodgates, and drains—had to be constructed (and maintained) to control and regulate the flow of water onto and off of the fields.
Once the fields and irrigation works were rendered suitable for cultivation, the production sequence could begin. After the rice was sown, the fields were flooded periodically during the growing season. Whenever the water was drawn off the fields, a good deal of hoeing had to be done; once the rice was mature, the crop had to be harvested, processed, prepared for market, and transported. Tremendous expenditures of labor and outlays of resources and energy were needed to complete this yearly sequence.

Evolution of the Industry
Despite its huge importance to Georgia's economy, the rice industry was subject to relatively rigid geographical/environmental constraints, and it never utilized more than a small proportion of the available land in the Lowcountry, much less in Georgia as a whole. Even at its peak no more than 45,000 acres of land were devoted directly to rice production in Georgia, and in all likelihood the actual figure was closer to 35,000 or 40,000 acres.
From its modest beginnings in the 1750s, Georgia's commercial rice industry grew substantially in the eighteenth century and continued to expand in the nineteenth century, before peaking on the eve of the Civil War (1861-65). In the last three census years of the antebellum period, the figures for rice output in Georgia were roughly 12.2 million pounds of clean rice in 1839, 24.7 million pounds in 1849, and 51.7 million pounds in 1859. At least 95 percent of total rice output in Georgia originated from coastal counties in each of these years.
African American workers were central to the Georgia rice industry throughout its history. Although white planters, stewards, and overseers performed important entrepreneurial and managerial functions on Lowcountry rice plantations, and although a surprising number of white small planters and white yeomen grew some rice both within and without the Lowcountry (particularly in the late nineteenth century), there was always a very close connection—indeed, a near identity—between black labor and white rice in Georgia.

Demise of the Georgia Rice Industry
That connection made the problems arising from rice's decline and ultimate disappearance as a commercial crop in Georgia profoundly painful and dislocating to Lowcountry blacks, both economically and socially. Indeed, the demise of rice devastated economic and social life for blacks and whites alike in the Lowcountry. The reasons for the abandonment of rice cultivation are as complex as they are controversial. Scholars have generally attributed it to the destruction directly associated with the Civil War, to the reluctance of post-emancipation African Americans to labor in rice swamps without the degree of coercion possible under slavery, and to the effects of a series of severe weather "shocks"—hurricanes primarily—that struck the Lowcountry in the late nineteenth century.
Some recent historians have adopted another view: the demise of rice in this area was due not so much to the factors mentioned above but to long-term expansion and elaboration of global capitalism, shifts that hurt the competitive position of the South Atlantic rice industry. As an integrated world rice market came into existence, low-cost rice from South and Southeast Asia increasingly undercut the position of American rice in its most important markets, particularly in northern Europe.
To be sure, the Civil War, post-emancipation difficulties in labor relations, and hurricanes certainly didn't help the competitive position of the Georgia rice industry, but the handwriting was on the wall for the South Atlantic producers well before the opening shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Competition from India, Java, Burma, Siam, and Cochinchina (later Vietnam)—rather than the Union forces—destroyed the Georgia rice industry. Indeed, the migration of the U.S. rice industry to the Old Southwest in the late nineteenth century can also be seen as a response in large part to international competitive pressures. Unlike production in the South Atlantic region (or in Asia), rice in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas was capital-intensive rather than labor-intensive: farmers in the region knew that their only chance to compete with low-cost Asian competition would be by increasing productivity through the substitution of capital (particularly mechanized equipment and sophisticated irrigation works) for labor. They did so with a vengeance, as did California rice growers shortly thereafter. Growers in Georgia and other parts of the Southeast could not make a similar shift: the swampland of the region would not support the weight of the new mechanized equipment, and the necessary investment capital was lacking in any case.
The collapse of Georgia's rice industry in the late nineteenth century is vividly illustrated in production data culled from the federal censuses. After peaking at more than 51 million pounds in 1859, clean rice production in Georgia fell to about 21.6 million pounds in 1879 and to just over 8.9 million pounds by 1899. By 1919 production in the state totaled less than 60,000 bushels—less than 2 million pounds—and accounted for only .2 percent of U.S. production as a whole. By that time more than 99 percent of U.S. production came from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and California.
The effects of the decline and ultimate demise of the rice industry in coastal Georgia were felt for a long time. By the late nineteenth century the area's other major staples had collapsed as well, and for much of the twentieth century inhabitants of the rural Lowcountry were forced into such alternative activities as truck farming, tourism, and forest industries, none of which offered growth possibilities similar to rice in its prime.

Suggested Reading
Judith A. Carney, Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001).
Joyce E. Chaplin, An Anxious Pursuit: Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730-1815 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).
Peter A. Coclanis, "Distant Thunder: The Creation of a World Market in Rice and the Transformations It Wrought," American Historical Review 98 (October 1993): 1050-78.
Peter A. Coclanis, The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670-1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
Julia Floyd Smith, Slavery and Ri ce Culture in Low Country Georgia, 1750-1860 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985).
Mart A. Stewart, "'What Nature Suffers to Groe'": Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 1680-1920 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996).

Peter A. Coclanis, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
Published 5/14/2003
Last Updated on Monday, 05 April 2010 23:08  


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