The world's largest rice producers and how they were predicted by space
Rice is the world's third-most-produced agricultural product, after sugarcane and corn (maize), both of which have a wide range of non-consumption uses.
Using 2019 production data from the UN's FAOSTAT and the USDA, this map illustrates the world's top ten rice-producing countries.
China (#1) and India (#2) are at the top of the list, with a combined production of 389 million tonnes, accounting for more than half of global production.
They're far ahead of the third and fourth-placed countries, Indonesia and Bangladesh, which each generated roughly 54.6 million tonnes. Except for Brazil (#10), almost all of the top producers are based in Asia.
INTERESTING FACT Over half of the world's population relies on the crop as a primary source of nutrition. Rice is a key part of nutrition across most of Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and it is believed to contribute more than one-fifth of the calories consumed by humans globally.
India, Thailand, Pakistan, and Vietnam were major net rice exporters in 2019, shipping almost $16 billion worth of rice. Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, for example, consume more than they produce and rely on imports to meet their needs.
And not everything survives the journey from plant to plate. According to estimates, 8–26% of rice is wasted owing to postharvest issues and insufficient infrastructure in developing nations.
Rice will continue to be an important source of calories around the world as the global population grows, and it will be interesting to see how that role alters as our diets change.
Rice cultivation data from space
As a result, rice is the primary source of income for Asian farmers. Extreme weather conditions, on the other hand, plague the entire region. Floods, typhoons, and droughts are all too common disasters that wipe away entire harvests.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, SwissRe, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), sarmap SA, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) engage in a rice crop monitoring program in order to better estimate harvests.
Since 2013, this public-private cooperation has aided rice farmers and governments in Southeast Asia and India in taking appropriate remedies when faced with impending harvest losses.
'RIICE' stands for Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging Economies, and it gathered detailed data from over 15 million hectares of rice-growing land in the Philippines, Cambodia, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. SAR satellites, which employ electromagnetic waves to scan the earth's surface, generate the data.
This technology is powerful enough to pierce dense clouds, allowing it to monitor rice fields during the monsoon season, which is the main rice-growing season.
The authorities are able to take proactive measures to prevent harvest losses early on thanks to real-time monitoring and harvest forecasts. Support can be provided well before the harvest fails — for example, due to storm-damaged seedlings.
As happened in Tamil Nadu, India's federal state, in November 2015, when weeks of severe rain swamped vast regions. More than 300 people died as a result of the flood, which wiped out all of the rice seeds and consequently the livelihoods of 400 rice farmers.
The state officials were able to assess the extent of the damage using satellite data only a few days after the rains began, allowing them to provide rice farmers with 50 tonnes of rice seed and 30,000 seedlings so that they could continue cultivation as soon as the rains ceased.
Source: Visual Capitalist, giz.de