Saturday, January 16, 2021

History of Rice in India

India is an important center of rice cultivation. The rice is cultivated on the largest areas in India. The country has the world’s largest area and is the second highest producer of rice. The crop is grown under varying climatic and soil conditions under diverse ecologies spread over about 43 million hectares.

Historians believe that while the indica variety of rice was first domesticated in the area covering the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas (i.e., north-eastern India), stretching through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China, the japonica variety was domesticated from wild rice in southern China which was introduced to India.

Combining archaeobotany and genetics suggests that O. sativa subsp. indica emerged through hybridization from a proto-indica that was managed in a morphologically wild state with introduced domesticated japonica rice, perhaps circa 2000 BC.

Archaeological work in India uncovered at the Neolithic site Lahuradewa in the Ganges Valley containing evidence of rice consumption dating to 7000 – 5000 BC.

Clear domesticated rice began to become widespread across northern India between 2000 and 1500 BC.

Perennial wild rice still grows in Assam and Nepal. It seems to have appeared around 1400 BC in southern India after its domestication in the northern plains. It then spread to all the fertile alluvial plains watered by rivers. Some says that the word rice is derived from the Tamil word arisi.

Arab traders took arisi with them and called it al-ruz or arruz in Arabic. This became arroz in Spanish and oriza in Greek.

Rice is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts. In India there is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together.

Asian rice cultivation spread to become a major agricultural staple throughout much of monsoon Asia between 1000 and 0 BCE, and it also began to be adopted on a smaller scale as a crop in Mesopotamia. One author has proposed that rice was introduced to lower Mesopotamia from India during the Achaemenid period, probably on the strength of a 4th century BC description by Diodorus of rice among military provisions at Susa.

The crop may well have been introduced to Greece and the neighboring areas of the Mediterranean by returning members of Alexander the Great’s expedition to India around 344-324 BC.

Rice was a major crop in Sri Lanka as early as 1000 BC. Before entering Sri Lanka in 543 BC, indica rice made their way to Malaya and from here to the Indonesian island of Java.
History of Rice in India