City-based NGO Thanal organises a display of 120 kinds of paddy seeds, 90 kinds of grains and the sale of 50 varieties of rice
A paddy that can hide an elephant among its stalks is kattuyanam. The name is derived from the Tamil words kattu (kaddu meaning forest) and yanai (elephant). A resilient paddy grown in the delta of the Cauvery basin in Tamil Nadu, it is flood- and drought-resistant. Growing up to a height of seven feet, the sturdy paddy, a red rice, is mentioned in Tamil literature that is around 2,400 years old, making it one of the ancient rice varieties that is still cultivated and consumed in India. In the context of climate change, the cultivation of this stress-tolerant rice is of great help to farmers, since the straw can also be sold.
Kattuyanam will be displayed as part of an exhibition of paddy seeds and grains, including sale of select varieties, which is on till November 1 at the Thanal sales outlet in Jawahar Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram. It is organised by the NGO Thanal, which has been spearheading Save the Rice Campaign, in association with Organic Bazaar.
“The exhibition showcases 120 kinds of seeds and 90 kinds of grains. Fifty kinds of grain will be for sale,” says Manju, CEO-designate, Thanal.
Celebrating the rice diversity of India with paddy from rice cultivating states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh featuring in the exhibition, the mela also highlights the nutrition benefits of native rice. A majority of the rice varieties is from Kerala, such as rakthashali, navara, valiya chennellu, mullankazhama, kuruva and thekkan chitteni.
Mullankayama, gandhakasala, jeerakasala, gobindobhog, basmati brown and basmati white are some of the aromatic grains that will be for sale.
Usha Shoolapani, director of Agroecology and Food Security at Thanal, says: “Indigenous seeds have an innate strength to cope with our climate and geographic conditions. Many of these are still cultivated by small farmers in Wayanad. The effort is to revive these seeds and make the rice available for customers.”
Since rice has been a staple for centuries in many regions in India, even the names of the paddy species have roots in the culture and beliefs of the people cultivating it. For instance, Laxmi bhog, Vishnu bhog and gobindobhog are aromatic, small white grains usually used for making food (bhog) for the gods Vishnu and Lakshmi.
“Mappillai samba, cultivated in Tamil Nadu, is usually served to newly married bridegrooms. It has a low glycemic index and has been found to be rich in several essential nutrients,” explains Jayakumar, executive director of Thanal.
Bahurupi, an aromatic rice from West Bengal, changes colour three to four times till it ripens. When it sprouts it looks black. The exhibition invites viewers to get a feel of the paddy, its aroma and colour.
“India’s rice diversity is amazing. Dr Debal Deb, a scientist in Odisha, has been growing 1,400 kinds of rice for the last 20 years and also researching on the nutrients in those species. Organically grown rice is rich in several micro nutrients and the effort is to educate consumers on the ill-effects of genetic fortification of cereals like rice,” says Usha.
“Although we don’t have online sales outside Kerala, we could try to connect buyers interested in buying these varieties with farmers in their area,” says Jayakumar.
The exhibition is from 10 am to 7 pm. The price ranges from ₹65 to ₹225. For details, contact: 0471 2727150.