In 2020, world production of paddy rice was 756.7 million metric tons (834.1 million short tons), led by China and India with a combined 52% of this total. Other major producers were Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. The five major producers accounted for 72% of total production, while the top fifteen producers accounted for 91% of total world production in 2017. Developing countries account for 95% of the total production.
Rice is a major food staple and a mainstay for the rural population and their food security. It is mainly cultivated by small farmers in holdings of less than one hectare. Rice is also a wage commodity for workers in the cash crop or non-agricultural sectors. Rice is vital for the nutrition of much of the population in Asia, as well as in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Africa; it is central to the food security of over half the world population.
Many rice grain producing countries have significant losses post-harvest at the farm and because of poor roads, inadequate storage technologies, inefficient supply chains and farmer's inability to bring the produce into retail markets dominated by small shopkeepers. A World Bank – FAO study claims 8% to 26% of rice is lost in developing nations, on average, every year, because of post-harvest problems and poor infrastructure. Some sources claim the post-harvest losses exceed 40%. Not only do these losses reduce food security in the world, the study claims that farmers in developing countries such as China, India and others lose approximately US$89 billion of income in preventable post-harvest farm losses, poor transport, the lack of proper storage and retail. One study claims that if these post-harvest grain losses could be eliminated with better infrastructure and retail network, in India alone enough food would be saved every year to feed 70 to 100 million people.
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