The majority of the Asian populace considers rice as an essential part of their everyday meal. More than a staple food, the process of rice production and consumption has long been a part of Asian culture. Based on archaeological studies, one of the origins of rice cultivation began in the region of the Yangtze River Valley in China and expanded among its neighboring areas. The domestication of rice has been a Chinese tradition which started as a ceremonial procedure initiated by their mythical Emperor Shennong. As Chinese civilization progressed through time, their rice agriculture flourished significantly.

Rice Growth in China

Today, China is well-known for being one of the top yielders of rice globally, with an average yearly production of 6.5 tons per hectare, from which 95% grows through the traditional process of transplanting rice seedlings onto paddy fields. Transplanting is a commonly used system which can be manually or mechanically done. Plant agriculture is a laborious procedure and takes about four to five months before the rice seedlings mature for reaping.

A person bicycling through a rice paddy

Regardless of the challenging and lengthy process, China’s rice production has continued to expand annually. The country mainly markets around Asia and most of the major countries across the globe. At present, 54 countries purchase rice from China, some of them are the United States, Australia, Colombia, Israel, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Last 2017, the country was able to sell almost 800,000 tons of rice In 40 African countries, one of China’s major rice consumers. The country’s capacity to export a large amount of rice across the world is because of its government’s long years of stockpiling when the price of rice grains was at its minimum.

Indeed, rice production plays a vital role in China’s economy. It has fed tons of its population and has helped other countries to overcome food scarcity. Rice is an essential socio-economic product that must be cultivated and enhanced continuously for the reason that almost half of the world’s inhabitants, which is more than 3.5 billion people, relied on rice to ease hunger.

Quality Control

The rapid increase in population causes high demands of rice consumption. Thus, China’s farmers try to improve the quality of their products in various ways. One primary method is the use of chemical fertilizers, specifically Nitrogen. The purpose of fertilizers during rice growth has effectively helped increase rice yields. Chinese farmers apply about 300 kilograms of fertilizers per hectare in a year, which is more than the average use globally.  However, excessive use of Nitrogen as fertilizers put an enormous threat to the environment. Hazardous effects such as soil acidification, water pollution and global warming due to greenhouse emission are the significant risk of the use of fertilizers.

People observing and taking notes at a rice paddy

Fortunately, researchers and scientists, who aim to make rice production safe and sustainable, have conducted a decade-long evidence-based study across small landholders in China and created a practical approach in which cutting fertilizer usage can still boost crop production. In this project, scientists were able to discover a compelling way that will lessen fertilizer usage. Through carefully observing and testing the variation of crop yields, planting times, climate changes, sunlight effects, water usages, and fertilizer

applications, scientists were able to discover how less chemical fertilizer application does not decrease the amount of rice production. They concluded that local conditions could help minimize Nitrogen usage up to 20%. Almost 20 million farmers in China adopted the suggestion and saw how rice production increased at about 11% each year between2006 to 2016.

Rice-Fish Farming

Another way to increase rice production without application of too many dangerous chemicals is known as the rice-fish system. This technique starts by introducing indigenous fishes into flooded paddy fields, allowing local aquatic animals to the tribe and release beneficial nutrients that support rice development. The aquaculture system is widely encouraged by agricultural scientists since it doesn’t just help with natural plant growth, but it gives farmers and landholders another way to maximize their businesses through cultivating fishes and rice.