Since ancient times, rice has been a staple food in monsoon Asia, an area in Asia which is strongly affected by monsoon activity and home to a dense population comprising many millions of individuals. Since rice is usually produced by a given country to feed its own population, production variability is commonly analysed on a country-by-country basis. However, recent globalisation and the frequency of disasters suggest that production variability, especially poor production, affects not only the producing country but also nations in the same region. In this research effort we analysed the variability in rice production in monsoon Asia and showed that large depletions in production derive primarily from production trends in India. Interestingly, India tended to undergo bumper years when China experienced lean years. If bumper years in India are associated with lean years in China, successful production in India can cushion the blow of poor production in China. We found no causal connection between rice production in India and rice production in China. Therefore, we would advocate more accurate analyses in the future that use approaches from disciplines such as climatology, hydrology and agronomy.
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