IFRice is a popular cereal crop commonly used as human food. It is actually a type of grass and belongs to a family of plants that includes other cereals such as wheat and corn.

Rice is rich in nutrients and contains a number of vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates—the best source of energy. However, a lot of these nutrients are lost during milling and polishing, which turns brown rice into white rice by removing the outer rice husk and bran to reveal the white grain.

Two species of rice are considered important as food species for humans: Oryza sativa, grown worldwide; and Oryza glaberrima, grown in parts of West Africa. Both of these belong to a bigger group of plants (the genus Oryza) that includes about 20 other species.

Rice is unique because it can grow in wet environments that other crops cannot survive in. Such wet environments are abundant across Asia where rice is grown.
Irrigated lowland rice, which makes up three-quarters of the world rice supply, is the only crop that can be grown continuously without the need for rotation and can produce up to three harvests a year—literally for centuries, on the same plot of land. Farmers also grow rice in rainfed lowlands, uplands, mangroves, and deepwater areas.

Rice plays an important role in many cultures. For thousands of years different parts of the rice plant have been used in religious and ceremonial occasions, as medicine, and as inspiration and medium for a great number of artwork. Rice shortages affect society far beyond the cold statistics that price, caloric intake, yield growth rates, and international trade suggest. Any significant disruptions of rice supplies can and do have far-reaching social and political ramifications.