One of the largest quantities of grains produced globally is rice. Around 500 million tonnes of rice are consumed annually. Over a billion people rely on rice as a key element of daily diets. There are a large variety of production systems, reflecting the wide range or biomes and ecosystems rice is produced within. There are also a number of different rice varieties – some which grow in waterlogged conditions and some in dry conditions. We will look at the environmental impact of consumption at a later date – but, the wasting of rice by consumers is a large factor in its environmental impact, regardless of how it is produced. In the UK alone, the estimated amount of rice wasted is 40,000 tonnes per year!
There are a number of methods of growing rice, which vary in terms of:
· Water availability (rain fed or irrigated)
· The nature of the land (lowland vs upland)
· The nature of the rice (anaerobic vs aerobic rice)
There are also variations in terms of how the rice is established - in a nursery area (transplanted) or directly sewn into the field (direct seeded).
There are also a wide range of varieties – such as ones that are fortified (golden rice), organic forms of production as well as the type of inputs used in production such as fertiliser and pesticides used.