Rice is the staple food of 65% of the total population of India. This cereal is cultivated in many states including West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bihar. 600 improved varieties of rice are cultivated, but Basmati rice is planted over large areas and exported.
Brown rice has a greater food value than white, since the outer brown coatings hold the proteins and minerals. The white endosperm is mainly carbohydrate. The early growing stage (Kharif) is from March-May to June-October. The mid-Kharif growing period lasts from June-October to November-February, and the Rabi season from November-February to March-June. The bran, meal, and chopped straw are fed to cattle and other animals. Arrack, a strong spirit distilled from fermented fruits, grains, or sugarcane, is occasionally prepared from a rice infusion.
Rice has a major cultural and religious significance in India. It is part of many Hindu rituals and offerings and is the symbol of prosperity. Rice is also an integral part of Indian cuisine and numerous delicious dishes are made with this cereal all over the country.