From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The breadbasket of a country or of a region is an area which, because of the richness of the soil and/or advantageous climate, produces large quantities of wheat or other grain. Rice bowl[1] is a similar term used to refer to Southeast Asia; and California's Salinas Valley is sometimes referred to as America’s salad bowl.[2][3] Such regions may be the subject of fierce political disputes, which may even escalate into full military conflicts.[4]

Breadbaskets have become important within the global food system by concentrating global food-production in a small number of countries and, in countries such as India, in small geographic regions.[5] As climate change increases weather variability around the world, the likelihood of multiple breadbaskets failing at a time increases dramatically.[5] The 2022 food crises has been in part facilitated by a series of failures in key breadbasket regions, and the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has created significant potential disruption of the respective breadbasket regions that are important for global wheat and oil seed production.[6][7][8][9][10]


Classical antiquity[edit]

Sicily and Africa were considered the breadbaskets of the Roman Republic. Later on, Egypt was considered the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. Crimea was the source of a huge quantity of grain supplied to Greek city-states, especially Athens. Similarly in both India and China, each empire had a significant source of grain concentrated in certain geographies. The fall of the Roman Empire was in part precipitated by a decline in safe grain trade from Egypt.


Wheat field in Miliana, Algeria

In South Africa, the Free State province is often considered the country's breadbasket due to its wheat, sunflower, and maize fields.[11] The Overberg region in the Western Cape is also known as the breadbasket of South Africa due to its large wheat fields, as well as fruit growing.[12]

Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia, was known as the breadbasket of Africa until 2000, exporting wheat, tobacco, and corn to the wider world, especially to other African nations. However today, Zimbabwe, is a net importer of foodstuffs from the Western World.[13] There seems to be more of a debate if Zimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa, as over a 55-year period Zimbabwe never topped a 10% share of maize on the continent. From 1960 to 1980 it only hit 6% lower than Kenya's contribution and on par with Nigeria.


Since subsistence agriculture was the dominant economic system in most of Morocco's history, it's difficult to speak of a breadbasket region. All regions produced their own wheat and barley to feed themselves and their livestock. With the European commercial penetration in the second half of the 19th century, Morocco started to export wheat to Europe despite the objection of the ulama (religious establishment). The Chaouia and Doukkala plains became the most important suppliers of wheat for export. This is logical given their proximity to the coast. The ports of Casablanca and Feddala, today's Mohammedia, serviced the Chaouia Plain while the port of Mazagan serviced Doukkala.

After Morocco's independence, agriculture in Doukkala became geared toward irrigation so less area has been devoted to wheat, whereas Chaouia maintained its status as a major wheat-producing region thanks to its dark soil called tirs and relatively abundant rainfall (avg. 400 mm/year).


Wheatfield in Punjab, India
Ricefield in Nueva Ecija, Philippines
State Breadbasket / Ricebowl
Cambodia Battambang Province was coined as the rice bowl of Cambodia due to the region's fertile fields.[14]
China Sichuan has historically been known as the "province of abundance" due to its agricultural prowess. The regions on the banks of the Yellow River and Yangtze River southern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have also been known for their rich fertility.
India The Punjab and Haryana regions are considered the breadbaskets of India.[15]

Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are said to be the "rice bowl" of India.[16][17]

Indonesia The plains of Java are considered the rice bowls of Indonesia.
Korea, South The Honam region, which is most commonly defined by Jeolla Province, has been considered throughout the peninsula's pre-divided history and is considered the breadbasket of the country due to its agricultural significance and geographical fertility.[18] Notably, the region is home to the renowned Jeonju Bibimbap.[19][20][21]
Korea, North The plains defined by Hwanghae Province are considered the breadbasket of the nation due to its geographical significance.[22]
Malaysia Kedah is considered the rice bowl of Malaysia, accounting for about half of Malaysia's total production of rice. In 2008, the government of Kedah banned the conversion of paddy fields to housing and industrial lots to protect the rice industry.
Myanmar The Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar used to be one of the most important sources of rice in the region until its production declined due to various reasons, including the country's unstable political situation.
Pakistan The Punjab province is considered the breadbasket of Pakistan.[23]
Philippines The province of Nueva Ecija, found on Luzon island, is considered the rice granary of the Philippines because of the vast tracts of land used for rice production.

The island of Mindanao is known as the country's food basket.[24]

Syria The Al-Jazira area in northwestern Syria, and its Euphrates basin is considered the country's breadbasket due to its abundance of wheat.
Thailand The Chao Phraya delta is considered the rice bowl of Thailand.
Vietnam The Mekong delta in Vietnam is considered the country's rice bowl.


Wheatfield in County Kildare, Ireland
Wheat fields near Lund in Scania, Sweden.
State Breadbasket / Ricebowl
Bulgaria Southern Dobruja, a fertile plain region in Bulgaria's northeast between the Danube and the Black Sea, is commonly considered the country's breadbasket.[25][26]
Cyprus The central plain called Mesaoria surrounding the capital Nicosia has long served as the island's granary.
Finland The regions of Southwest Finland and Uusimaa, have the warmest climatic conditions in continental Finland and fertile soil thanks to their southern location, making them the breadbaskets of Finland.[27]
France The Beauce plains are considered the breadbasket of France.
Germany East Prussia was considered as the breadbasket of the German Reich.[28]
Hungary The Hungarian Plain has produced significant amounts of corn and grain. In the early 20th century, 34% of Europe's total corn production and 11% of the European flour production was grown in Hungary.
Ireland The eastern half of Ireland is the traditional breadbasket of the country, with the western part being used for pasture.[29]

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Ireland was itself the breadbasket of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with Irish grain feeding Britain's industrial cities while Irish peasants subsisted on potatoes.[30] This would lead to the Great Famine of the 1840s.[31][32][33]

Portugal Alentejo is considered the breadbasket of Portugal.
Romania In the 19th century, Romania was considered part of Europe's breadbasket.[34]
Russia There is the Central Black Earth Region in Russia proper.
Serbia Vojvodina was considered the breadbasket of Serbia. About 70% of its agricultural products are corn, 20% industrial herbs, and 10% other agricultural cultures.
Spain Andalusia is considered the breadbasket of Spain. The primary cultivation is dryland farming of cereals, olive trees, vineyards and sunflowers. Using irrigation, a large amount of maize, strawberries, citrus and rice are also grown on the banks of the Guadalquivir river.
Slovenia In the 18th century, there were plans to drain the Ljubljana Marsh and transform it into the breadbasket of Carniola.[35][36]
Sweden Scania is considered the breadbasket of Sweden. The yield per unit area is higher than in any other region in Sweden and the soil is among the most fertile in the world. The Scanian plains are an important resource for the rest of Sweden since 25–95% of the total production of various types of cereals come from the region.
Ukraine Ukraine has long been known as the breadbasket of Europe.[37] When it was part of the Soviet Union, it had been known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.[38]
United Kingdom The East Anglia area of the East of England is sometimes referred to as "Britain’s breadbasket", where a combination of climate, landscape and soils are well suited to growing wheat; in 2010 sufficient to produce 5,774 million loaves of bread.[39]

The Americas[edit]

North America[edit]

The United States Corn Belt

In Canada, a major grain-growing area is called the Canadian prairies. Sometimes the province of Saskatchewan, also known for producing a huge supplement of potash, is further singled out from within this region as the main breadbasket of Canada.

In the United States, an important region is the Corn Belt, where maize and soybeans are major crops, which generally extends from the Great Lakes south through Missouri.[40] Further to the west in both the United States and Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains, is the Wheat Belt, where the climate is too severe for maize or soybeans.[41]

The Palouse region of Eastern Washington state is often referred to as the Breadbasket of the Pacific Northwest, due to its high production of cereal wheat and lentils.[1]

During the Civil War, the Shenandoah Valley was known as the Breadbasket of the Confederacy.[42]

Additionally, the San Joaquin Valley in California has also been called the breadbasket of the world.[43] The San Joaquin Valley produces the majority of the 12.8% of the United States' agricultural production (as measured by dollar value) that comes from California.[44] Grapes—table, raisin, and, to a lesser extent, wine—are perhaps the valley's highest-profile product, but equally (if not more) important are cotton, nuts (especially almonds and pistachios), citrus, and vegetables. 70% of the world's and 100% of the U.S. supply of almonds comes from the valley. Oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa and numerous other crops have been harvested with great success. According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture's ranking of market value of agricultural products sold, nine of the nation's top 10, and 12 of the top 20, producing counties are in California.[44]

South America[edit]

Barleyfield in Los Toldos, Argentina

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Argentina was known as the breadbasket of the world, due to the importance that agriculture had, and still has, in the country. Argentina's cereal cultivation is found in the Pampas region, which encompasses the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba and La Pampa. Within this region, many cities, such as Pergamino, Venado Tuerto and Rosario, are one of the most fertile areas in the continent. Some of the plantations include soybeans, maize, wheat, barley, sunflower and peanut, among others.

In the 19th century, access to the Californian and Australian markets made wheat export a very lucrative activity, leading to the Chilean wheat cycle.[45] In the mid-19th century, those countries experienced large gold rushes, which created a large demand for wheat. Chile was at the time the "only wheat producer of some importance in the Pacific".[46]

Brazil is also seen as a breadbasket, as it is the world's largest supplier of coffee and contains vast tracts of arable land.



The Murray-Darling Basin is seen as Australia's breadbasket, being the source of 40% of the nation's agricultural income, a third of the wheat harvest, 95 percent of the rice crop and other products such as fruit, wine and cotton.[47]

New Zealand[edit]

When New Zealand became a British colony, the fertile lands produced food that would be shipped back to England, causing New Zealand to become colloquially known (occasionally along with Australia) as Britain's breadbasket, subsequently leading to the Dunedin being the first ship to complete a truly successful transport of refrigerated meat. She was refitted with a refrigeration machine with which she took the first load of frozen meat from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.


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  3. ^ Kaplan, Sheila. "Salinas, California: The Salad Bowl of Pesticides". Politics Daily. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
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Further reading[edit]