Rice cultivation probably dates back to the antiquity and has probably been the staple food and the first cultivated crop in Asia. In India, rice has been cultivated since ancient times. This supported by archaeological evidences and by the numerous references made to rice in ancient Hindu scriptures and literature. Carbonised paddy grains were found in the excavation at Hasthinapur (Uttar Pradesh) at a site dated between 1000-750 B.C. This is the oldest rice specimen
yet known in the world. From the study of Sanskrit and of other different languages in South-Eastern Asia, many investigators have come to the conclusion that rice was known in India before the present era.
The leading countries producing rice crop are Japan, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia,
Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Philippines.
Rice is the world’s leading food crop, cultivated over an area of about 155 million hectares with a production of about 596 million tonnes (paddy). In terms of area and production it is second to wheat. It provides about 22 per cent of the world’s supply of calories and 17% of the proteins. Maximum area under rice is in Asia. Among the rice growing countries, India has the largest area (44.8 million hectares) followed by China and Indonesia. In respect of production, India ranks second with 131 million tonnes of paddy next to China (200 million tonnes of paddy). In regard to average yield per hectare, Egypt ranks first followed by USA. Average rice yield of India is only 2929 kg per hectare.