BANGALORE: Over a period of time, thousands of varieties of rice has disappeared due to many a reason. With the government and researchers failing to address this issue, the ongoing Rice Festival aims to conserve the diverse varieties before it’s too late.
Celebrating the rich heritage of rare indigenous rice varieties in the country, the ‘Desi Rice Mela’, a three-day-rice festival kicked off in the city on Friday. Farmers from across the state are thronging the fourth edition of the Mela to educate people on the different varieties of rice and their nutritional values. Organised by a city-based NGO Sahaja Samrudha, in association with NABARD, Save Our Rice Campaign and others, it is expected to garner more than 15,000 visitors. The mela bring together rice conservationists, policy-makers, farmers, mill owners, organic rice sellers and other stakeholders.
“I have been associated with Sahaja for over a decade now. It is great initiative where we are able to buy many varieties, not usually available in the Bangalore markets. Having nutritional qualities, some of them are rich in iron content. The Mela will create a better platform for the farmers too,” Dr Namita, a visitor.
Many farmers who have grown rare varieties of rice and possess a seed bank were feted at the mela. “The present generation is not aware of the rich diversity of rice that we possess. India once had two lakh varieties before the Green Revolution but now only 30,000 varieties survive in our gene banks,” Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudha said.
Navara/joint plain rice, a variety from Kerala, has anti-carcinogenic properties. It is good for people suffering from joint pains and for breast cancer patients. It is also called as ‘Indian Viagra’. (price ` 80 per kilogram)
Diabetic Rice or the brown rice is recommended by doctors as the consumption of this variety of rice doesn’t cause rapid rise in blood glucose level. (`50 per kg)
Karibatha/ Karikalave, is said to help cure herpes. Karikalave is usually served to lactating mothers, as it is high in calcium content. (` 40-50 per kg)
Aromatic rice varieties like Gandhasale, Gamsale and Jeeriga samba are used in the preparation of special rice dishes. (`50-60 per kg)
Burma black sticky rice is rich in vitamins and minerals. (`65 per kg)
Daily rice: These are unpolished or lightly polished rice varieties like Rajamudi, Rathnachoodi, Sannavalya, Chinnaponn and Sona Masuri.