Rice flowers in the paddy field
Rice is the seed of a monocot plant Oryza sativa. As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East, South, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the West Indies. It is the grain with the second highest worldwide production, after maize ("corn").
Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is probably the most important grain with regards to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species.
Rice takes 150–200 days to mature in warm, wet conditions. During its growing period, it needs to be flooded either by the heavy monsoon rains or by irrigation. This restricts the cultivation of swamp rice, the usual kind, to level land and terraces. Outside Asia, centres of rice production include the Po Valley in Italy, and Louisiana, the Carolinas, and California in the USA.
The rice plant is unique among cereal crops in that it is grown standing in water. The rice stem is adapted to allow oxygen to pass downwards to the waterlogged roots. The grain is usually white, but there are red, brown, and black varieties. The thin skin of the grain is rich in oils, minerals, and vitamins.
Taken at Kadavoor, Kerala, India