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What is Paddy Rice?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Paddy rice is the individual rice kernels that are in their natural, unprocessed state. Sometimes referred to as rough rice, it is harvested directly from rice fields or paddies and transported to a processing site. As part of the processing, the protective hull is removed, leaving only the actual rice kernel for consumption.

Unlike some of the protective hulls found in many natural foods, the hull on rice is not edible, and so is usually removed during processing. Some producers parboil the rice with the hull on before milling it, which increases its nutritional value and makes it more durable. The hulls themselves can be used as animal feed and pet food, fertilizer, and as a building material.

All types of rice begin life as paddy rice, including the highly nutritious brown rice varieties. The harvested rice kernels begin processing with the removal of the hull. Every brown rice product is simply rice that has been harvested from the hull and has not been subjected to intensive processing. White rice products go on to a more comprehensive processing in order to obtain the bright white appearance that is enjoyed by many consumers.

While paddy rice is not considered good for human consumption, it is not unusual for the harvested rice to be left intact for an extended period of time. By leaving the sturdy hull on, it is possible to store the kernels for several months without incurring any product losses due to spoiling or infestation. Most manufacturers of rice products prefer to wait until the actual processing to remove the hulls, ensuring the freshness of the finished product. There are a few places around the globe where it is possible to purchase rice with the hulls on, however, and perform the threshing process in a home environment.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon282353 — On Jul 28, 2012

Paddy rice is a somewhat disparaging reference in wild rice country, to "wild" rice that is grown in a paddy vs traditionally harvested lake or river wild rice. In my opinion, there is an enormous difference in taste.

By anon264462 — On Apr 28, 2012

It's not so much the size, but the elevation to irrigate the paddy.

So the water fills one higher than the rest, then overflows to the next highest and repeats itself over and over.

By anon259164 — On Apr 05, 2012

Paddy rice is simply rice as it is harvested, i.e., before milling.

Paddies are small either because first, the land is steep and narrow terraces are needed for water control or second, land holdings are small and fragmented, and the small paddies reflect land ownership. Land leveling and/or consolidation can reduce the need for small paddies.

By anon70077 — On Mar 11, 2010

It's a form of irrigation. You use the dikes to direct the water where you need more or away from where you need less. That way the crops are evenly watered.

By anon69851 — On Mar 10, 2010

The reasons paddies tend to be small is that they are usually farmed by itinerant farmers who cannot pay to have their field leveled to a single elevation for equal flooding. Each of the paddies tends to be level throughout but not with the other paddies. Different levels also allows excess water to flow to paddies of lower elevation.

By mosesb44 — On May 26, 2009


I am trying to find out why rice paddys are sectioned off into small areas. I can't imagine it saves water because a small area will evaporate faster than a large area.

Thank you, Bernard moses

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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