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DEFINITION: Edible starchy cereal grain and the plant by which it is produced. The origin of rice culture has been traced to India. Rice culture gradually spread westward and was introduced to southern Europe in medieval times. Roughly one-half of the world population, including virtually all of East and Southeast Asia, is wholly dependent upon rice as a staple food. The earliest datable record is from Chirard in the Ganges Valley, before 4500 BC. By the third millennium it was widely grown in south China and it was likely domesticated at Hemudu by the eartly 5th millennium BC. Its original center of cultivation could lie anywhere between the two. The earliest cultivated rice may have been grown in natural swamps or middens, but by at least 2000 years ago many parts of southeast Asia were developing terraced or wet-field cultivation.
wet-rice technology
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: wet-rice farming, wet-rice society, wet-rice cultivation, wet-rice growing
DEFINITION: A type of farming in which rice is grown in paddies, small, level, flooded fields in southern and eastern Asia. Wet-rice cultivation is the most prevalent method of farming in the Far East, where it utilizes a small fraction of the total land yet feeds the majority of the rural population. Rice was domesticated as early as 3500 BC, and by about 2,000 years ago it was grown predominantly in deltas, floodplains and coastal plains, and some terraced valley slopes. Although rice can also be grown under dry conditions, wet-rice cultivation in paddy fields is much more productive. The fields can be flooded naturally or by irrigation channels, and are kept inundated during the growing season. About a month before harvesting, the water is removed and the field left to dry.

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