How many kinds of rice do you know?

It’s amazing to me how many kinds of rice there are.  I racked my brain trying to think of the ones I could name last week & came up REALLY SHORT!

  • Long-grain rice is probably what I know best cause it’s what most of the farmers I know grow.  Varieties like cypress, some of the new ones that carry the Rice-Tec name (have a friend or two there).
  • Of course there is sushi grade rice too…. I met a farmer in California that was growing one of those varieties a few years ago.  He was nice enough to give me a few pounds to bring home.  It was a bit aromatic and I loved it.
  • Speaking of a bit aromatic, there are quite a few varieties of jasmine rice I’m sure.
  • I’ve heard “wild rice” as Uncle Ben’s sells it really isn’t rice… can’t believe I didn’t think to ask that question when I was at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
  • I’ve seen red rice in the field, it’s not anything any of us want to eat but I have to wonder if genetically it’s related and if there is something we could pick up there to use.

But when I logged onto the IRRI website I have to admit I was stunned to see there were more than 109,000 different types of rice!  Come on, how many of you would have had a clue that there were that many types of rice?  Seriously.

And what intrigues me is how you get information on so many different genetic backgrounds and where do you even start to know how to improve a crop that is so incredibly diverse gentically?  I would say those questions are some of the reasons that I’m in awe of plant breeders.

IRRI researchers globally are working on identifying the genetics and mapping the rice genome, according to a release on the site.

I had the chance to see IRRI’s headquarters in Los Banos.  And while there, I was really impressed with the commitment to improving this crop most of us take for granted.  And in fact, I’d go so far as to say that in the US, it’s a totally unappreciated grain.  That differs DRAMATICALLY from many countries with large populations like China, Indonesia and India.

In the country that is home to IRRI’s world headquarters, rice is a primary crop and it’s so common that I was told several times that Filipino’s feel like they haven’t had a meal if there was no rice.  I saw this first-hand as a mix-up left a family potluck dinner without rice. My friend’s 6 year old nephew Usher was distraught over the idea of no rice.  And as the house we were at scurried to fill the void, the nephew played and paced — Usher really wasn’t eating til there was rice despite having been hungry.  When the rice came out, I went & got him and the child ran like he was on fire!  He couldn’t get to the rice fast enough!

With that sort of deep love for the crop, seeing that rice yields in the Philippines has more than tripled in the past 50 years, outpacing global averages makes me thankful.  Thankful for the farmers who grow rice and thankful for the scientists who are finding ways to improve the productivity of the crop and solving other problems farmers face.  See, IRRI isn’t just breeders.  They have scientists all around the world looking at agronomic practices for rainfed & irrigated cropping, ways to improve harvest and storage, etc.  They do it all.  And I was lucky enough to see one tiny little fraction of it!

The next blog post was on how IRRI manages digital data.

This is the fifth in a series of posts on Phillipines ag info picked up during a recent vacation.

About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Celebrating My Blog’s First Anniversary « ag – a colorful adventure for this city girl - October 1, 2010

    […] How many kinds of rice do you know? — I’m a huge fan of travel and food cultures! This was some of both. A vacation to The Philippines included some ag & farm related info and after getting home I posted some of it. Rice is a crop I’ve worked before and having family and friends who’s cultures are centered on that grain as much as my family is on wheat & hot rolls strikes me. […]

  2. World Food Day — Thoughts from Someone with a Full Belly « ag – a colorful adventure for this city girl - October 16, 2010

    […] efforts. Globally, CGIAR has an extensive network that crosses crops including IRRI for rice (a past post), CIMMYT is engaged in corn and wheat (check their blog). Small, local companies are breeding crops […]

  3. Plant Breeding Student Attends IRRI’s “Rice: Research to Production” Course | a colorful adventure - August 15, 2011

    […] How many kinds of rice do you know? It’s amazing to me how many kinds of rice there are.  I racked my brain trying to think of the ones I could name last week & came up REALLY SHORT! Long-grain rice is probably what I know best cause it’s what most of the farmers I know grow.  Varieties like cypress, some of the […] […]

  4. World Food Day — Thoughts from Someone with a Full Belly | A Colorful Adventure - March 16, 2012

    […] efforts. Globally, CGIAR has an extensive network that crosses crops including IRRI for rice (a past post), CIMMYT is engaged in corn and wheat (check their blog). Small, local companies are breeding crops […]

  5. Celebrating My Blog’s First Anniversary | A Colorful Adventure - March 16, 2012

    […] How many kinds of rice do you know? — I’m a huge fan of travel and food cultures! This was some of both. A vacation to The Philippines included some ag & farm related info and after getting home I posted some of it. Rice is a crop I’ve worked before and having family and friends who’s cultures are centered on that grain as much as my family is on wheat & hot rolls strikes me. […]

  6. What's up with rice? Is it still safe to eat? | A Colorful AdventureA Colorful Adventure - December 19, 2012

    […] on a regular basis, we eat rice noodles in sukiyaki and more. And who could forget the day when friends in the Philippines forgot to fix rice and a six year old couldn’t imagine eating dinner without […]

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