29 Nov
Brief History of Rice
Till today, we do not know when it was first discovered and domesticated and perhaps this is one fact we will never come to know. It is generally believed that the domestication of rice began somewhere in the Asian arc over 7,000 years ago. 

According to some schools of thought, it is probably a descendent of wild grass that was cultivated in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas and the upper tracts of the Irrawady and Mekong river basins. Another school of thought believes that the rice plant may have originated in southern India and then spread to the north of the country. From India, the plant spread to China and then onwards to Korea, the Philippines (about 2000 B.C.), Japan and Indonesia (about 1000 B.C.). The Persians are known to have been importers of this grain. Arab travelers took it to Egypt, Morocco and Spain and from there it travelled all across Europe. The Portuguese and Hollanders took rice to their colonies in West Africa. From Africa it travelled to America, rice being a gift from the Old World to the New.

A fecundity symbol at weddings in Asia, rice has accompanied the saga of the newlyweds for centuries in most parts of the world, also as symbol of prosperity and fortune.

In Portugal, rice production started to be documented in the early 18th century. The Romans had imported rice but had never grown it on a large scale. The Muslims started to grow it on irrigated fields in Sicily and Spain and in the 18th century there are records of rice fields in Portugal around the Tagus estuary.

Most rice is grown around 5 major river estuaries of Portugal: Mira, Sado, Sorraio, Tagus and Mondego, in the centre or in the south of the country, since it does not grow in the north because of the cold. Rice production is presently approximately 1 250 thousand ton/year.

Portugal is the largest rice consumer in Europe, over 15 kg/capita/annum.

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