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Selection of Kala Namak rice for 'ODOP' raises hope for its growers

Sidhharth Nagar Feb 7 (UNI) Uttar Pradesh government has selected ‘Kala Namak’ rice, one of the finest quality scented rice of India, as a product from Sidhharth Nagar district under ‘one district one product scheme’ which have raised the hopes of the farmers involved in the farming of the rice variety.

District Magistrate Kunal Silku here on Wednesday told UNI “We have sent a proposal to state government that government should announce the support price for the Kala Namak rice and later export it to foreign countries as farmers gets very nominal prices for the crop from the big traders who export it to very high price in international market.”

“Along with that the water reservoir made during British period will also be restored which will provide adequate water for the irrigation of the rice variety and also encourage the farmers for farming of that” Mr Silku pointed out.

Kala Namak was grown widely in Tarai belt of Uttar Pradesh, which comprised districts Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Basti, Gonda, and Gorakhpur. Until 30 years ago, the variety covered more than 10% of total rice cultivation area in Siddharth Nagar but these days acreage under this variety declined sharply, forcing it to near extinction, for various reasons.

Outburst of Panicle blast, the most destructive diseases of rice, epidemics during two consecutive years 1998 and 1999, tall stature of the crop causing lodging, long duration of harvest (6 to 7 months) and non-availability of quality seeds and research support were the reasons behind declination of its production.

After being selected by UP government as a product for ‘one district one product scheme’ farmers, traders related with the farming of the Kala Namak rice has hope that things will change in positive way. As the rice variety is famous in Gulf countries, European countries and some other foreign countries the export of the rice was much in demand.

DM Sidhharth Nagar, said that surveys will be conducted to list the problems of rice growers in the area with environmental and financial aspects. State government will promote the farming of Kala Namak rice in every possible way as it will not only help farmers local traders but will create more employment opportunities for the youth of the area, he added.

Kala Namak rice has been cultivated since Buddhist period which has been scientifically proven as grains of the rice were found from the excavation of Aligarhwa in Sidhharth Nagar district. Aligarhwa has been identified as the real Kapilvastu, the Kingdom of King Śuddhodana, father of Gautama Buddha.

In British period the rice variety was exported to many foreign countries including United Kingdom. British rulers had made proper arrangements for the irrigation of the crop. Canals of British period, were connected with water reservoir, still have prominent marks.

Ignorance of governments after independence for the cultivation of Kala Namak rice and gradual atmospheric changes lead to the shrinking of the farming of the particular rice and now not more than 500 farmers are involved in the farming of that.

The rice variety was awarded Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2013 September. The GI tag is given to a product to indicate it has a specific geographical location or point of origin. Initiatives of Agriculture department in 2015-16 for conservation, promotion, storage and distribution were not taken seriously by then state government.

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