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China. China leads the world in the rice production and is followed by India from a great distance. Rice is the most distinctive crop in as many as five agricultural regions of China all of which are located in the southeastern segment of the country. The five rice regions of China include: (a) Szechwan rice regions, (b) Yangtze rice-wheat region (c) Southwest rice region: (d) Double-cropping rice region; (e) Rice-tea-region.
(a) Rice in the Szechwan province is grown under irrigation in the hills and on the plains. The efficacy of irrigation varies considerably in different areas. It is now the country's greatest producer and it yields maximum per acre return in China.
(b) The fertile lower Yangtze basin is comprised of six important provinces of Kiangsu, Anhwei, Hupeh, Huhan, Kiangsi and Chekiang, which together have nearly 1/3rd of the Chinese population. Throughout the area rice is by far the most important food crop grown. North of the Yangtze, rice represents about 33% of the food crop acreage whereas to the south it increase its share to as high as 70%
(c) The southwest rice region is constituted by Yunan and Kweichow and is located rather in isolation from China proper. The greater part of this region is a plateau with a general elevation of 1,200 meters. The favorable climate notwithstanding, this region is unenviable backward.
(d) The double-cropping rice region includes Fukien, Kwantung and Kwangsi. The characteristic crop in this predominantly hilly and mountainous region is rice to which 68% of the planted area is devoted. China, produced about 90 million metric tons in 1987-88. Hunan is the most important rice-producing district.
India Rice is traditionally the most important crop in India, covering as it does, about 30% of the acreage under food crops. India has also for a lone time been the world's second largest producer of rice.
Though the greatest concentrations of rice are generally met within the deltas, flood plains and coastal districts, it is also grown in hilly tracts where abundant water and at least moderate temperature conditions are assured. For the purposes of cultivation, the hillsides are cut into terraces, which are leveled off and embanked with hedges in order to retain the moisture obtained assiduously from nearby streams or from rainfall.
Total acreage under rice was 84 million acres in 1985-86 whereas production of rice was around 63 million tonnes in 1987-88 against 20.3 million tonnes in 1950.51. A slight drop in the amount of rainfall spell havoc over many rice-growing regions, especially those with marginal rainfall. Rice is rightly, therefore, called a 'gamble with the monsoon'.
The important rice growing states of India consist, in order of importance, are West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam. Other states are Maharashtra and Punjab, Kerala. It is to be noted that all states of India grow rice in varying quanties.
Rice cultivation in other regions. Bangladesh is the third largest producer of rice in the world. Practically the whole of the country is formed of the fertile alluvium of the Ganga and Brahmaputra. Though rice is grown everywhere in the country, Dacca, Maymensingh, Bakhargani, Faridpur, Barisal and Rajsahi account for the greater part of the production, amounting to 11 million metric tonnes.
Of the four main islands of Japan, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, rice cultivation is particularly important in the last three. Intensive method blended with modern agro-technology has . given Japan a very high place with regard to average yield. Presently Japan is self-sufficient in her requirement of rice, which, however, has largely stemmed from the change of dietary habit of the Japanese.
In Indonesia rice is cultivated on all the islands, the bulk of the output is raised from Java, Sumatra and Borneo. Java ranks first in rice production among the Indonesian islands because particularly of the factor of fertile volcanic and alluvial soils. Large population makes import a necessity for Java.
The Irrawady basin of Burma, the Red river basin of North Vietnam, the Mekong valley of South Vietnam, the Menam valley of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Formosa, the Philippines and Malaysia are also important rice growers of south and Southeast Asia.
World Trade. Normally 6 to 7 per cent of total rice production comes into international trade. In 1987-88 about 7 million metric tons of rice were put in the intonational market for sale. The regions of surplus production of rice are characterized by favorable physical environment and by moderate density of population. Trade in rice takes place between densely populated parts and sparsely populated parts of Southeast Asia. Burma, Thailand and Cambodia handle major portion of trade.
Burma and Thailand contribute about 30 per cent each in the export trade. U.S.A. and Egypt provide about 12 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. Brazil, Equador, Vietnam. Formosa, Spain and Italy are other exporters. India, Malaya, Sri Lanka, Japan, Indonesia; Cuba are the principal rice importing countries.