Some 7,000 years ago present during India's oldest and most extensive civilization in the Indus Valley, rice farming began as a small but important part of culture. Though intensive farming may not have been possible in the areas of Mahagara, Chopani-Mando and the Vindhyan Hills, migrants in these areas likely spread rice farming down into the Ganges valley, the fertile plains of Bengal, and beyond Southeast Asia.
Apart from being widely used in a variety of dishes and as a form of sustenance, rice in India forms a significant part of the culture. During weddings, it is customary to throw rice at newlyweds or for the bride to offer rice as the first food to her husband in that rice is associated with prosperity and fertility. According to a popular Indian saying, "Two brothers should be like a grain of rice, close but not stuck together."
Early Sanskrit texts have also made references to rice. Those from the first millennium B.C. show that the god of weather, Indra, was asked for good monsoon rains and a bountiful harvest. It is believed that the scientific name of rice, Oryza, was derived from ''arisi,'' the Tamil word for rice.
India is considered to be one of the original centers of rice cultivation, covering 44 million hectares. Its rice harvesting area is the largest in the world. Around 65% of the total population in India eats rice and it accounts for 40% of the nation's food production. Rice-based production systems provide the main source of income and employment for more than 50 million households.
India: fast facts