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Black rice makes a comeback in Odisha from brink of extinction

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Sambalpur: Black rice, among all indigenous rice varieties produced in northeast and eastern regions of the country, has made a comeback from the brink of extinction in Odisha.

The native crop popularly known as ‘Kalabati’ rice, which was lost over the years, once again was being produced in Sambalpur district of western Odisha.

Hats off to the young farmer Chetan, a resident of Birasinghgarh under Jujumara block in Sambalpur, who is growing the black paddy in 10 acre farmland, rediscovering the native rice variety.

Most importantly, Chetan is farming the paddy of local variety in organic method without using any chemical fertilizer.

The black rice with medicinal values is rich in vitamin B, E, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. It works like an anti-oxidant in the body.

The cooked black rice is useful for the cancer and diabetic patients. It acts like the blood purifier and is useful for eyes and skin. The black rice destroys the toxins in body, keeps liver and kidneys healthy. It also helps reducing fat as well as increases digestive system.

The black paddy is cultivated in June first week and harvested after 150 days, i.e. in five months. The colour of the plant is black and grows upto six feet high. Like the plant, the colour of rice is also black.

With all these features and medicinal values, the black rice is normally available in markets at more than Rs 500 per kg. However, the price of the rice is expected to be between Rs 200 and Rs 300 for locals in Odisha with more production of this variety of rice in Sambalpur.

Experts said that the black rice is native to Odisha. It was highly yielded in the State 60-70 years ago. With discovery of different varieties of paddy seeds with more productivity, the demand for several native and valuable varieties of paddy seeds like Kalabati decline.

However, with return of black rice that is the grain for kings and affluents, the farmers across the State could take ample opportunity to earn more by producing such crop, the experts said.