High-value, nutritious black rice can bring farmers more profits.

Two farmers of Jalma and Gangarampur villages of Batiaghata upazila in Khulna have cultivated high-value and nutrition-rich black paddy variety in this Boro season. The price of per kg rice obtained from this paddy is usually Tk300 to Tk400.

Upazila agriculture office says that about 15 maunds (600 kg) of paddy can be obtained from one bigha (33 decimals) of land in this region. The yield of the black paddy variety is the same as the general ones on the same land.

"I have experimentally cultivated black rice on 12 katha (19.8 decimal) land in the current Boro season. I bought two kg of black paddy seed from a local man for Tk400 who brought it from Thailand," Abdur Rahim, a farmer of Jalma village said.

He added, "I sowed the seeds in July and the seedlings were planted at the end of August. I will harvest about 8 to 10 maunds of paddy in January from here". 

He also hoped that he would sell around Tk80,000 worth of paddy for which he had to spend only a total of Tk10,000.

At present, the average price of general variety rice in the market is Tk60 per kg. On the other hand, the price of black variety rice is at least Tk300 per kg. Thus, farmers will get at least five times higher profit than that of general rice variety by cultivating black rice on the same land.

For the general rice the external coating of the rice is removed and Vitamin B and thiamine outside the rice are lost during polishing. Since black rice is not polished, its nutrients remain intact.

Black rice also contains anthocyanins, which act as cancer-fighting antioxidants. Black rice contains nutrients, vitamins, zinc, fibre and minerals at least three times more than that of the general rice.

However, black rice cultivation is not for the first time in Khulna. Earlier, the farmers of Dumuria upazila cultivated this rice. That farmer had also made more profit than the regular paddy cultivation. However, it is not widely cultivated due to a lack of promotion among the farmers.

Batiaghata Upazila Agriculture Officer Rabiul Islam said, "In the current season, two farmers have cultivated black rice on about 1.5 acres of land in our area. Next year, we have set a target to cultivate this rice in eight acres of land".

He added: It will gradually gain popularity among the farmers.

Directorate of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Khulna Office Additional Deputy Director Mosaddek Hossain said, "The price of the rice is high and nutritional value is also high. Therefore, the farmers benefit more by cultivating this type of rice".

He said that it takes 160 days to cultivate the general rice varieties while it is 120 days for the black rice. Also, the black rice plant has less insect infestation and requires less fertilisers and pesticides. 

"So, we are taking the initiative to expand black rice cultivation. There is a legend that because of the nutritional values, once the kings of some countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, used to eat this rice," he said. 

He added: The common farmers of those countries were forbidden to grow or eat this rice. So, it is also called forbidden black rice.

The rice is sticky and aromatic, which is used more in cooking payes and khichuri. The rice contains high fibre, which slowly produces glucose in the body. As a result, blood sugar level remains under control. This rice is very helpful for the diabetic patients, he said.

Date: 02-Jan-2023