Rice Production in Portugal

Portugal is the fourth largest rice producer in the EU, after Italy, Spain and Greece. The rice sector sees around 2,000 farmers engaged in cultivation, and 500 workers engaged at the 10 existing rice mills in the country. In all, approximately 10,000 people are directly involved in the production of rice, in addition to the 5,000 who have an indirect involvement.

The agricultural area used for rice cultivation is equivalent to 28,000 hectares, with a production yield of 5.6 tons per hectare. The majority of the cultivated area, about 22,000 hectares, is dedicated to Carolino rice (Japonica), while the remaining 6,000 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of Agulha rice (Indica), whose production varies from year to year.

The rice varieties grown in Portugal are all attributable to the Long A or Long B type. The most used for cultivation are of Italian and Spanish origin, but several native varieties were reintroduced a few years ago, and could play an important role in the near future.

The average quantity of rice produced over the last 5 years has been about 160,000 tons of paddy rice per year, equivalent to approximately 110,000 tons of white rice. The quantity of imported rice (Agulha, Basmati, Jasmine, Italian risotto varieties, etc.) has averaged 175,000 tons of husked rice over the last 5 years, while exports of husked and processed rice (Carolino) have been equivalent to 85,000 tons. The net negative balance of trade is approximately 90 thousand tons.

The amount of milled rice sold by the industry is 200,000 tons, with a domestic consumption of 160,000 tons. Portuguese domestic production is able to satisfy as much as 55% of the domestic demand. The total turnover of the agricultural production of rice amounts to 55 million Euros, while that of industrial processing and the distribution chain amounts to 200 million Euros.

The Portuguese consume as much as 16 kg of rice per capita per year, an amount that exceeds the average for EU countries by four times, placing Portugal in first place for rice consumption in Europe.