Local grains are regaining their rightful place in several Indian rice-eating states
Several Indian rice-eating states have a diversity of local rice varieties rich in nutrition, flavour, taste and texture that have been grown for centuries. Some even come with pest-repelling properties. The Kola Joha or Black Husked Rice rich in nutrients such as protein, minerals contains high levels of antioxidants that protect cells, tissues, and vital organs.
With high fibre and low sugar it is an aromatic winter-grown rice native that has been revived with three other varieties from an almost-lost status to being currently farmed by hundreds of smallholders. Kola Joha was just one of 24 heritage rice varieties identified and selected, after nutritional profiling, for revival under the Native Basket brand by Guwahati-based NGO Foundation for Development Integration (FDI).
Women self-help groups are striding ahead with their success, linking up with companies and local-level government offices to produce and market alternate products from the rice. From 120 hectares and 180 tonnes of Jeeraphool grains in 2005 they have more than tripled cultivation to 400 hectares harvesting over 1,000 tonnes in 2020 in Surguja district. The agricultural heritage has traversed a long journey to victorious survival.