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History of rice cultivation in India

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1. Historians believe that while the indica variety of rice was first domesticated in the area covering the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas (i.e. north-eastern India), stretching through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China, the japonica variety was domesticated from wild rice in southern China which was introduced to India before the time of the Greeks. Chinese records of rice cultivation go back 4000 years.

2. Rice is first mentioned in the Yajur Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) and then is frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts. In India there is a saying that grains of rice should be like two brothers, close but not stuck together. Rice is often directly associated with prosperity and fertility, hence there is the custom of throwing rice at newlyweds. In India, rice is always the first food offered to the babies when they start eating solids or to husband by his new bride, to ensure they will have children.

3. The earliest remains of cultivated rice in the sub-continent have been found in the north and west and date from around 2000 BC. Perennial wild rices still grow in Assam and Nepal. It seems to have appeared around 1400 BC in southern India after its domestication in the northern plains. It then spread to all the fertile alluvial plains watered by rivers. Cultivation and cooking methods are thought to have spread to the west rapidly and by medieval times, southern Europe saw the introduction of rice as a hearty grain. Some says that the word rice is derived from the Tamil word arisi.

4. Ramayana 2000 BC - Sri Rama stated to Bharata that special care and attention should be given to the farmers, then only prosperity and happiness of the people could be ensured. The Mahabarath ( 1400 BC), also stated that agriculture, animal husbandry and trade are the way of life of the people. It was mentioned that large irrigation tanks have been constructed for agriculture purpose.

5. Parashara ( 400 BC) was the author of Krishi Parashara, which is regarded as highest authority of agriculture. It deals with knowledge and practices relating to agre, such as soil classification, land use, manuring, plant protection and agricultural meteorology. It also deals with the care of draught animals and grasses for cattle.

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