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Desi Rice Mela highlights agro-diversity of the State 

250 varieties of rice on display 

THE HINDU BUREAU

Visitors at the Desi Rice Mela which was inaugurated in Mysuru on Saturday. | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

The two-day Desi Rice Mela showcasing a slew of rice varieties and paddy variants some of which are tottering on the brink of extinction, was inaugurated in the city on Saturday.

Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra who attended the inaugural event said that the district administration would support any initiative in the conservation of desi rice. Concerning establishing a rice mill or processing unit at the community level, the district administration will extend all possible assistance, he added.

Mr. Rajendra said a community-oriented rice processing unit would be supported by the district administration to prevent the possible contamination of the agricultural produce cultivated by organic farmers when taken to conventional mills or processing units for processing.   

Pointing out that India was rich in agricultural diversity Mr. Rajendra said that it was not the responsibility of the farmers alone to conserve the indigenous and rare varieties of rice. Even the consumers have a role to play by generating demand for it, he added.

Farmers have conserved the agricultural heritage and diversity of the country for millennia by cultivating them and it was the collective responsibility of all to ensure that they are preserved and propagated for posterity, said Mr. Rajendra.

Two farmers Geetha and Srinivasmurthy from Siddanahundi in T. Narsipur taluk, launched the mela by pounding the paddy.

Dr. Sridevi Annapurna Singh, Director, Central Food Technological Research Institute released Sidda Sanna variety of rice developed by seed saver Bore Gowda of Mandya. Dr. Singh said that the nutritional value of traditional and indigenous varieties of rice was high. She said the CFTRI was prepared to carry out a nutritional analysis of some of the rare varieties of rice for the benefit of the farmers and the consumers.

A handbook of desi rice was also released during the inauguration while a pamphlet encouraging the public to consume and patronize red rice that was unpolished and reckoned to be rich in antioxidants.

Mr. Bore Gowda said it was the responsibility of the government to make available rice rich in nutritional value. He called for the procurement of rice from local cultivators instead of procuring it from other States. Such a policy will encourage farmers to cultivate the local varieties of indigenous rice and also facilitate their conservation, he added, and called for a policy change in rice procurement and distribution.

Mr. Bore Gowda also expressed concern over the negative fall out of the hybrid varieties of rice that were being encouraged by the government and said that the consumers should be more cautious.

The rice mela is being organised by Sahaja Samrudha in association with Rebuild India Fund and Save Our Rice Campaign to showcase indigenous varieties of rice.

Mr. Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samrudha in his keynote address said the nutritional value of red and brown rice has been ignored due to the growing preference for white polished rice. In all, over 250 varieties of paddy and rice are on display besides a sale of about 30 varieties. In addition, there is display and sale of millets to promote their consumption. READ COMMENTSREAD LATERPRINT

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Published Date: May 18, 2024

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