Black Jasmine rice being cultivated on one acre

Rice plants with violet panicles are the new attraction at the Kombankuzhy Padasekharam (paddy field) here. These panicles are of the Black Jasmine rice variety cultivated by Nayanan C.C., a Health Department employee-cum-paddy farmer.

He is growing the rice variety, known for its medicinal properties, on one acre of leased land. He sowed the seeds two months ago and the harvest is expected in February.

Nayanan says that his aim is to popularise rice varieties with medicinal properties.

“In India, Black rice with numerous health benefits is mostly grown in Manipur, West Bengal and some other north-eastern States. When I came to know about the benefits of it, I decided to cultivate it in the puncha crop season,” he says.

He got 25 kg seeds of the Black Jasmine rice from a farmer in Wayanad. It is being grown in an organic way. “The farmer was reluctant to give the seeds saying that they might not germinate in our conditions. The germination was in fact difficult. I had soaked the seeds in water for several hours and repeated the process quite a few times before they germinated. Black rice can grow in our conditions with slight changes in the germination process,” says Mr. Nayanan, a resident of Thirumala ward in the Alappuzha municipality.

Black rice also known as the ‘forbidden rice’ is rich in nutrients and is deep dark in colour. It will turn deep purple when cooked due to the high level of antioxidant called anthocyanin. Studies have also revealed that the rice variety contains fibre and anti-inflammatory properties.

Apart from Black rice, he is also cultivating Rakthashali and Krishna Kamod varieties in another half an acre at the Kombankuzhy Padasekharam, which is spread over 110 acres.

Flood resistance

In August 2020, Nayanan C.C. had hit headlines after the Rakthashali rice variety cultivated by him on half an acre withstood three weeks of flooding.

The Kombankuzhy Padasekharam was inundated on August 7 following a heavy downpour. When the waters receded after three weeks, paddy cultivated on 109.5 acres (Uma variety) was destroyed. Although the field where he sowed Rakthashali too was inundated, the rice variety withstood the flood much to the surprise of farmers and agriculture experts. In November, the paddy was hand-harvested in the presence of farmers, scientists, and environmentalists.

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