Ecology and food economy

Cycle of common agricultural products (rice, corn)

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Rice and corn: Production and use


Rice is the second most cultivated cereal in the world. Over 700 million tonnes of rice are produced each year.

This corresponds to an uninterrupted chain of lorries of more than 30 times the distance between Paris and Beijing! Nearly 90% of this rice is produced in Asia, including 30% in China, which is also the main consumer.

Half of the population of the world depends on rice for its diet. In most Asian countries and some African countries, rice consumption is over 100 kg per person per year.

Rice feeds two thirds of the world's population. It can be eaten in a variety of forms, whether as pre-cooked rice, pasta, rice cakes or baked goods. In 2015, world consumption of rice was approximately 50 kg per person.

Rice is not just used as food. For example, rice germ oil is used in cosmetics, and rice straw can be used to thatch homes or as a source of energy.


Corn is an important foodstuff for many developing populations, while in North America and Europe, it is mainly used for animal feed and in industry.

Corn is produced in even greater amounts than rice. With more than one billion tonnes per year, it is by far the world's most cultivated cereal. North America constitutes the largest production area.

Since 1990, a 50% increase in yield and a 40% increase in cultivated areas has more than doubled corn production.

Corn can also be used in a variety of ways, mainly as food for humans and animals, and as a raw material in industry.

In 2013, the consumption of corn and its derived products worldwide was 18 kg per person.

However, unlike rice, only one-tenth of the corn is used for human consumption.

Maïs utilisationIn recent years, corn has also been widely used to produce biofuels. More than 30% of corn production in the United States is now used to make bioethanol.

It is worth noting that corn is used mostly after processing, while rice is most often consumed directly, without being transformed at all.

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