The value of rice to the world cannot be overstated.
Over half of the world's population relies heavily on the crop as a staple food for a significant portion of their diet. In a large portion of Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean, rice is regarded as an essential component of nutrition and is thought to account for more than one-fifth of all calories ingested by people globally.
Using 2019 production data from the UN's FAOSTAT and the USDA, this map illustrates the top 10 rice-producing nations in the world.
These are some of the highlight points:
- Only 10 nations produce about 85% of the rice consumed worldwide.
- The main two producers, together making up more than half of global output, are China and India.
- Except for Brazil, all of the top 10 producers are based in Asia.
In 2019, 756 million tonnes of rice were produced worldwide, behind only corn (also known as "maize") and sugarcane, both of which have a wide range of non-consumption applications.
China (#1) and India (#2), who together generated 389 million tonnes and accounted for more than half of global output, are at the top of the list.
They produced more than twice as much as the third- and fourth-place nations, Bangladesh and Indonesia, which each produced over 54.6 million tonnes. Except for Brazil (#10), almost all of the top producers are based in Asia.
Given that 84% of the world's rice is produced in just 10 nations, it is obvious that many of them must rely on imports to meet domestic demand.
India, Thailand, Pakistan, and Vietnam together exported about $16 billion worth of rice in 2019, making them significant net exporters of the grain. Other nations like Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines need on imports to meet their demands because they consume more than their country' total output.
And not everything is edible after it leaves the plant. According to estimates, 8 to 26% of the rice harvested in poorer nations is lost because of post-harvest issues and inadequate infrastructure.
Rice will remain a major source of calories as the world's population expands. As our diets evolve, it will be interesting to examine how this role changes over time.