Priced Rs 300 a kg, Black Rice known for medicinal qualities flourishes in Kuttanad
Alappuzha: The paddy bunches in violet colour attract attention in Kombankuzhi fields here. Thirumala native C C Nayanan cultivated black rice, which is known for its medicinal properties, in this fields. Earlier, he had successfully grown Rakthashali paddy seeds and showed it can survive floods.
Famous as a paddy variety that can resist cancer, black rice seeds were collected from Wayanad native Praseedh. As the seeds do not sprout easily, Praseedh was hesitant to give the seeds of black rice. However, Nayanan sowed it on one-acre land in Kombankuzhi fields which is part of Kuttanadu fields.
Nayanan filled water in the field many times and applied 200 kilograms of cow dung, 25 kilograms of bone manure and neem cake each. He sowed seeds on November 4. The paddy bunches emerged within 52 days. Though insect attack was seen some times, Nayanan used beneficial insects to fight them.
Normally, black rice is harvested in 120 days as ordinary paddy. But in Nayanan’s farm, he hopes it can be harvested in 100 days as it grows rapidly. Dr Vandana Venugopal, director of Rice Research Station in Mankombu, said that the climate change could be the reason for fast growth of the paddy.
Nayanan also receives advice from Rice Research Station in Mankombu for the innovative farming. A staff at pathology wing of Vandanam medical college, Nayanan conducts research in cancer. As part of this, he cultivates traditional paddy varieties like Rakthashali.
Before sowing the seed, Nayanan’s wife Tintumani made a dessert cooking 1 kilogram of black rice. Their children Subhag Bhanu and Nethranand Bhanu tasted it and confirmed that the rice was delicious. Nayanan manages to do farm works with his family during his leisure time.
Nayanan said that he experiments with traditional seeds in order to overcome the lifestyle diseases through food. He also sought help of doctors for clinical tests of Rakthashali and black rice.
Black rice is mentioned in Ayurveda as an ideal paddy variety for boosting immunity. It can also resist cancer. Seen in black colour, it contains more amount of protein and fiber than other rice. It also houses 23 anti-oxidants. Black rice can improve health of heart and brain too.
Black rice is mainly cultivated in South Asian countries and northeast states in India. The rice got the black colour from the presence of Anthocyanin pigment which gives the colour to grapes and figs. Its current market price is Rs 300 per kilogram.