Himachal will place 4,000 hectares of land under red rice cultivation in 5 years

In an attempt to give red rice, which is “on the verge of extinction”, a new life, the government of Himachal Pradesh has set a goal of putting around 4,000 hectares of land under cultivation and producing around 40,000 quintals of the rice. cereal grain. annually for the next five years, state Agriculture Minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday.

At present, the total area under cultivation of red rice, for which the state government is also trying to obtain a geographical indication label, in Himachal Pradesh has been recorded at around 1,100 hectares. The total annual production is 9,926 quintals, with an average production of 8-10 quintals / hectare.

According to the state government, the area under red rice has seen a slight increase over previous years due to sustained efforts by the Department of Agriculture.

“With growing health awareness and concern for the environment, red rice, probably the first cereal humans began to domesticate, which is on the brink of extinction, is making a comeback,” said Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Kanwar.

An official statement said that in recent decades, the inclination of farmers towards cash crops and high-yielding varieties, along with the subsidized supply of fine grains through the public distribution system, and the change in preferences of farmers. consumers, had led to a decrease in the area under cultivation of red rice. “Due to farmers’ switch to apple and vegetable crops, the area cultivated with rice has decreased dramatically in recent decades, but farmers have now returned to cultivating this traditional crop,” the minister was quoted as saying in the statement.

According to the state government, currently, red rice, one of the oldest crops domesticated around 10,000 years ago, is grown in areas of surplus water below the Chirgaon, Rohru and Rampur blocks in the Kullu valley, the high hills from Shimla. Sirmour and Chamba districts, plus parts of Kangra in Himachal.

“Some of these popular varieties of red rice include Chhohartu from Rohru (Shimla district), Sukara from Tiyan (Chamba), Lal Zhini and Red Ramjawain (Kangra), and Jattoo and Matali (Kullu district),” said the minister.