New Delhi/Guwahati, Nov 28: Black rice is well suited for Assam soils and weather conditions, carrying a huge opportunity for its commercial production. The World Bank-funded Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation project (APART), has begun production of new black rice varieties from different states of India.
The crop is expected to be harvested within the next week from the project wherein the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has embarked on this ambitious collaboration with the Government of Assam under the APART, IRRI said in a release.
Amongst the many varieties available, black rice has seen increasing market demand in different parts of the country due to its high nutritional value. India being a predominantly rice producing nation, has a plethora of varieties, each having different nutritional properties, characteristics, and climatic preferences.
"In this Sali season (rice grown in winters), IRRI - under APART - provided 60 kg of Manipuri black rice, 30 kg of Kalamalifula and 22 kg of Kalavati amongst a few selected farmers of Goalpara district in Assam. The Manipuri black rice variety is introduced from Manipur whereas other two black rice varieties namely Kalamalifula and Kalavati were introduced from Odisha," the release said.
The seeds of these varieties were sown on a total area of 17.6 bighas of land, comprising Manipuri black rice in 10 bigha, Kalavati in 3.6 bigha and Kalamalifula in 4.0 bigha as demonstration plots.
These demonstrations are aimed to link the farmers with the buyers for higher returns and to make available good quality seed for future use. "With the current demand for black rice due to its high nutritional value and health benefits, IRRI under APART aims at increasing areas with black rice production in the coming days," the release said.
"IRRI has also introduced the crop cafeteria of the premium quality rice (PQR) varieties along with the indigenous rice varieties for comparative analysis, evaluation and selection. The purpose of the crop cafeteria is to provide an opportunity to the farmers and extension functionaries to select the best performing varieties of their preference for further adoption on their fields," said Dr Kanwar Singh, resident coordinator & Senior Associate Scientist II at the IRRI.