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Major Commodities - Rice

While rice often conjures images of sodden fields - as is often the case throughout parts of Asia - Australia's rice varieties are a world apart.

Australian ricegrowers have adapted to Australia's unique climatic conditions to drive innovative farming techniques to produce a crop that is conducive to the local landscape. New, sustainable rice farming practices have seen a dramatic 60 percent improvement in efficient water use, while growing a product that remains in high demand worldwide.

In fact, rice is the main source of nutrition for more than half the world's population and, in a normal production year, Australian rice provides the staple diet of around 40 million people every day.

Australian rice: fast facts

  • Traditionally, Australian farmers produced around 1.2 million tonnes of rice each year. Over the past few years, production levels have severely plummeted due to drought and water restrictions.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agricultural Commodities 2009-10, Catalogue No. 7121.0

  • The 2008 rice crop of 19,400 tonnes was the lowest in the Australian rice sector's history (since 1928), representing just over 1 percent of normal production. This is not surprising given rice is an opportunistic crop, which at the time was in its fifth year of drought.
  • SunRice 2008

  • In 2009-10 the area sown to rice grew by almost tenfold, from 7,000 hectares in 2008-09 to 75,000 hectares.
  • ABARES, Australian Commodities, 2011

  • By 2010-11, the rice harvest had more than tripled to 726,000 tonnes, the largest crop in four years with yields of 9.7 tonnes per hectare.
  • ABARES, Australian Commodities, 2011

  • Australian rice growers surpassed the international average production of 5.4 tonnes per
    hectare 45 years ago. The Australian rice industry averages 8.6 tonnes per hectare.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agricultural Commodities, 2008-2009, Catalogue No. 7121.0

  • In 2010-11, 65,000 tonnes of rice were exported, with a total export value of $61 million.
  • ABARES, Australian Commodity Statistics 2011.

  • Over the last 10 years, Australian rice growers have improved their water use effi ciency by 60 percent.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Agricultural Commodities 2006.

  • Australian ricegrowers use up to five times less water to produce a kilo of rice than overseas growers.
  • International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines, 2004

  • Annual world production totals 600 million tonnes with only 25 million tonnes traded outside
    the country of origin. Australian rice growers are the most efficient in the world, operating with zero production or export subsidies.
  • Ricegrowers' Association of Australia, Our Australian Rice Facts 2005.

  • The rice industry is the first Australian agricultural industry to initiate a regional biodiversity plan and a greenhouse reduction strategy.
  • Ricegrowers' Association of Australia, Our Australian Rice Facts 2005.

For more, view NFF Farm Facts 2012.

Further information

< Major Commodities