China at Harewood


China is one of the original centres of rice cultivation and growing it has been traditional in the southern area of China for thousands of years. Rice was a staple crop and food in the 18th Century and remains so today. In the past, people greeted each other by saying: Have you had your rice today?

Rice provides more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

Rice production, post-harvest activities and the processing of rice into other products provide the main source of employment and income for at least 50 million families.


Rice Production

Rice cultivation is well suited to countries and regions with low labour costs and high rainfall, as it is very labour intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water. Rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on steep hillsides.

The traditional method for rice production is flooding the fields after setting the young seedlings of the rice plant. The seedlings are usually hand planted in rows, and while the seedlings are growing the water levels in the fields are kept to a depth of about 3cm.

Grains are harvested before they are fully mature, about 30 days after the rice plants have flowered. The rice plants are cut halfway up the stem and either allowed to dry in the field or bundled for processing. The most common method is harvesting by hand, which is very labour intensive.

The harvested grains are then threshed to separate the grain from the stalk and husk. This is usually done by bashing bundles of rice stems on a stone or other hard platform, or using animals to trample on the stems. The grain is then dried in the sun ready for hulling. Husked or hulled rice is usually called brown rice. This is then milled to remove the outer layers, which is polished to produce white rice.

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