Rice is the staple food for the largest number of people on Earth. Over 90% of world’s rice is grown in a relatively tiny region of the world, namely, the south, southeast and east Asia. This region can be termed as the Region of Rice Civilisation (RORC). It has several extraordinary features which set it apart. It is largely characterised by vast flat lands, having rivers with vast deltas and heavy monsoon precipitation, rendering it highly suitable for rice cultivation. The proportion of arable land (21%) is high; nearly double the value in non-RORC world. The tiny RORC area (14% of the world’s land area) has been holding more than half the world’s population probably throughout recorded history, testifying to the primacy of the region in the world. All (25-odd) RORC countries have a more or less common socio-political history of a millennia-old rich civilisation. There is a broad cultural unity among the countries of the region, and rice plays a dominant role in the community life here. The grain is considered sacred despite the differences in popular religious faith among the people. This region, exhibiting a distinctive politico-cultural status, calls for the attention of historians, anthropologists and social scientists to unravel its mystery.
Key words: Rice, civilisation, human sustenance, rice in human history, rice countries.
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