Folk Rice Magic and Low Yield Myths

By Anupam PaulonMar. 04, 2016in Environment and Ecology
Many folk rice varieties are suitable for marginal land. Cultivation is lower in cost than modern varieties and needs minimum organic input.

Edapho-climatological factors have made rice the staple food of eastern India since times immemorial. There were more than 5,000 region specific indigenous rice varieties (folk rice) in West Bengal and a 1930 survey report showed that undivided Bengal had 15,000 rice varieties; the majority of them belonging to what is now Bangladesh. These had been selected and developed from a single crop species of rice – Oryza sativa – by visionary farmers of times past to meet the food security of future generations. Both their contribution and their vision remain unacknowledged. Each variety is unique with specific characters: disease resistance, flood tolerance, flood and drought tolerance, high grain yielder, aroma and such others. Farmer-selected crop varieties are not only adapted to local soil and climatic conditions but are also fine-tuned to diverse local ecological conditions and cultural preferences (Deb 2009). Kalonunia and Chamarmani are blast resistant, for instance. Lowlying areas in West Bengal are replete with flood tolerant varieties. A wide genetic base provides “built-in insurance” (Harlan 1992) against crop pests, pathogens and climatic vagaries.

Check out the full article in the Feb.-Mar. 2016 issue of Farmers’ Forum magazine, on pages 55 to 63.

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