Rice is a key component of the diet of every Southeast Asia inhabitant. There are many varieties. The ordinary varieties of white rice are consumed everywhere, but the sticky rice is also widespread in the area.
Wet rice culture is practised mainly in the plains. This type of practice requires either transplanting young plants a few weeks after planting or sowing seeds directly in the fields. Thailand and Vietnam are among the worlds' leading exporters. Rice terraces are often practised in the highlands. The terraced fields of the Ifugao in the Philippines and the Hani in southern China are the most famous.
Dry shifting cultivation is widespread in the mountains. The forest is cleared and burned. Traditionally, men dig holes in which women sow the seeds. Rice grows with the help of only rainwater.
Many rituals punctuate the agricultural cycle, especially those requiring an abundant harvest. The belief in the soul of rice is important.