Andhra and Odisha Farmers make Black and Red Rice Popular in the USA and Europe
Farmers in parts of Andhra Pradesh and their counterparts in the bordering districts in western Odisha are increasingly finding it much more profitable to cultivate Black Rice and Red Rice that have great export values.
These varieties of rice are also considered more nutritious and low on fat and hence are in growing demand. They fetch better prices than conventional white rice.
The demand has renewed hopes among the farmers who were struggling to make the ends meet earlier. As per estimates over 1,000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh are engaged in black and red rice farming.
Under the natural farming initiative, the agriculture department of the state has been promoting the cultivation of black and red rice and other varieties in Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, West Godavari, Krishna, and Guntur.
Black rice (Kala Batti) is a range of rice that turns purple when cooked. The purple colour is due to the rice’s anthocyanin content. Black rice contains more vitamins and minerals than white rice and is also rich in fibre and has anti-carcinogenic properties, according to K Prakash, assistant director of agriculture and district project manager of natural farming in Andhra Pradesh.
Similarly, Red rice( Ratna Chodi) is rich in iron, said Prakash adding that farmers started cultivating these rice varieties nearby a year ago. Now, these exotic rice varieties are cultivated in around 200 acres land in Vizianagaram district. “Soon, more farmers will fancy growing black and red rice,” Prakash added.
Muralikrishna, a farmer who grows black rice, said, “I came to know about the benefits of black rice and its market value and decided to experiment on some land. The input cost for growing the variety is low and the return is good as there is high demand.” Muralikrishna has decided to promote farming of Kala Batti among his peers.
Muralikrishna says that he will try to persuade other villagers to cultivate Kala Batti as it gives a yield in 140 days. I came to know about the benefits and huge market value of black rice and decided to experiment on some land. The input cost for growing the variety is also low and the return is good. Demand for the variety is also more, he said.
D Sudhakar, a resident of Vizag city said they have been consuming the black rice variety for the past few months as it improves immunity and controls diabetes.
Similar success stories with black and red rice are also coming from Western Odisha farmers. In fact, it is their success first that motivated the famers of Andhra.
At the moment, farmers sell black rice at Rs 200 per kg and red rice at Rs150 per kg. This price is with less input cost compared to normal white rice.
The yield of black rice is 15 to 18 bags per acre.
Red-rice and black rice are now being exported to the USA and European Countries from India.