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Black Rice cultivation? How a local farmer makes it a success story in Assam

According to experts, black rice used to be known as forbidden rice in ancient China

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If you presume that rice comes in shades of white, you are definitely wrong! In the Goalpara district of Assam, black rice farming is not uncommon and over 200 farmers are opting for black rice over the other varieties of rice.

The black rice farming was started by a single farmer about four years ago, later it became fancy and more farmers are turning to it instead of the traditional white rice.

Young farmer Upendra Rabha of Aamguripara village near Dudhnoi in the district started cultivating black rice in 2011 as an experiment with guidance from the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK). Although the people of the area, mostly belonging to the Rabha community, did not believe in Upendra, the experiment turned out to be a grand success in the very first year. The number of cultivators now stands at over 200 as black rice fetches more returns for its nutritional value.

“In 2011, a scientist of KVK, Dr. Uttam Kumar Baruah, gave me the seeds of a black rice variety called Oryza Sativa. I planted the sole seedling in a corner of my paddy field, which gave me 15 panicles from which I harvested 150 gram seed in 2011,” Upendra, who harvested about 48 kg of paddy from the 150 gram seeds the next year, told this correspondent.

“The farmers in our area have been cultivating only traditional white rice and they have never heard about black rice. The people of the area did not believe that the black rice could change their fate. However, my efforts brought results in 2012 when I could get 48 kg of black rice.

600px-Kalbhat
Crop. Image source: Wikipedia

“I took my produce to agri-horticulture fairs organized by the government of Assam and other parts of the state and only then could I realize the huge demand for the black rice,” said a happy Upendra. The next year he cultivated black rice in five bighas of land which resulted in nearly 1,500 kg of paddy.
Black rice is known for its high nutritional value and is a source of iron, vitamin E, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and zinc. According to experts, black rice used to be known as forbidden rice in ancient China. Forbidden not because it looked poisonous because of its black colour, but because of its high nutritional value, which meant it could only be eaten by the emperor and other nobles.

Sticky in nature, black rice is also suitable for making porridge and can also be used in preparing sweet dishes.

“In 2014, 50 farmers of my village came together for community farming of black rice. We have cultivated in about 100 bighas of land and the yields were eight maunds (300 kg) of rice per bigha of land. We sold it at Rs.100 per kg till last year (for a total earning of Rs.300,000),” he said adding that last year about 100 farmers of Dudhnoi area had cultivated black rice in 500 bighas of land and got a good yield.

“What is more important is the price factor. With the traditional white rice, we had a small market; we have a bigger market for black rice. The existing price of Rs.100 per kg is also another factor which is encouraging more farmers to take up black rice cultivation here. Last year an organization came from Mumbai to see our paddy field and they bought 100 quintals (10,000 kg) of black rice from us to be exported to different European countries,” Upendra said.

“We are also getting queries from different organizations in the US, Japan and Korea who want to buy the black rice from us,” he said, adding that he has been urging farmers in Assam and Meghalaya to grow black rice to bring prosperity to them

With the initial success, the Assam government’s agriculture department is now planning to promote the cultivation of organic black rice in larger parts of Assam.

The agriculture officer of the Dudhnoi sub-division, Manoranjan Das, said that what the farmers here are growing is basically the semi-organic variety.

“We are encouraging the farmers to grow organic variety which will further increase the demand. While the non-organic variety of black rice fetches Rs.200 to Rs.250 per kg in foreign countries, the organic variety sells at Rs.500 per kg,” Das said, adding that according to a study by the Louisiana State University, a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants, which are capable of fighting cancer and heart disease. (IANS)

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Nutrition Tips That Will Help You in Healthy Ageing

Nutrition tips for people over 50

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Healthy ageing
Ageing brings along many changes to the bodily functions and affects most organs. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

Ageing is inevitable, irreversible and progressive. Whats more is that it brings along many changes to the bodily functions and affects most organs.

Nutrition has a great role to play in healthy ageing, says Dr Aastha, Head Clinical Nutrition, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mohali.

“People face several health issues due to age and lack of adequate nutrition can add to the severity of the situation. Therefore, proper nutrient intake is essential for people. As nutrient requirement of people changes with age, one must know what to eat and what not to, based on the condition of their body,” she said.

Few factors that might lead to reduced food intake after one hits 50 are: Loss of appetite, decreased sense of taste and/or smell, difficulty chewing and/or swallowing, loss of physical strength or mobility, chronic conditions and medication, mental and emotional factors, financial insecurity.

Some do’s and don’ts for people of age 50 years and above:

Healthy ageing
For a healthy ageing, eating fruits is important. Pixabay

Adopt easy-to-digest, easy-to-absorb, small frequent meals.

Limit sugars, sweet beverages, undiluted juices, prefer fruits

Add plenty of fluids to your diet as they keep you hydrated and boost digestion

Replace refined cereals and grains with whole grain cereals and pulses

The fibre composition in diet should be moderate

Limit sedentary lifestyle – be physically active

Two-three servings of seasonal fruits should be included every day’s meal

Add onion, ginger, garlic, lemon, cumin seeds, carom seeds, fenugreek seeds, almonds, walnuts, coconut water in diet as these are good for muscular flexibility, prevent water retention and swelling and also contribute to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Busting a few myths about ageing and nutrition:

Healthy ageing
Nutrition has a great role to play in healthy ageing. Pixabay

There is no reason for avoiding proteins in this age, as proteins are essential for tissue repair, avoiding pulses at night is an additional myth.

Salt needs to restricted only when one is hypertensive or has serum sodium levels on the higher side.

Cottage cheese does not have cholesterol if it is made from toned milk and is a very healthy option.

Saturated fats need not be eliminated totally from diet, unless one has a heart block or hypercholesterolemia.

Consumption of milk post dinner is just fine provided it’s not taken too late.

Also Read- Why People Are Turning To CBD Vs Traditional Medicine

Reducing number of meals beyond 3 is way more harmful, so one must target 3 major meals and 2 minor meals to keep metabolism going.

Eating healthily, combined with regular physical activity, can help a person live a full active life. (IANS)