Thursday, 2 May 2019

Rice And Odisha Connection

The name 'Orissa' is derived from 'Rice'.
Rice is a cereal grain that is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). 
The previous name of Odisha was Orissa. It was named so owing to its rich rice varieties.
The term 'Orua' prevalent in Orissa since early times seems to be the same as the Greek 'Oruza' meaning rice, and the Oxford Dictionary states the 'Oroza' is a loan word in Greek from some oriental source. The 'Oretes' (Greek) or the 'Or'/'Odra' (Sanskrit) people may, therefore, mean either the Rice-eating; or the 'Rice growing' people.
There are many varieties of rice in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Rice forms a part of almost 69% of the total cultivated area of agriculture in Odisha. The agro-climatic zones of Odisha are great for rice cultivation.

With 485 kilometres of coastline, Odisha has sumptuous rice and fish dishes.
We Odias proudly celebrate the Pakhala Dibasa on March 20 every year. Pakhala is a dish prepared with rice.

As per Ramiah and Ghose (1951) and Ramiha and Rao (1953) Jeypore tract in South Odisha has been identified as a putative secondary center of origin of cultivated rice .As per Sharma (2000), the regions comprising western Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh is recognized as the centre of origin of only aus ecotypes of rice. Centuries-old traditions, customs and festivals in Odisha show the deep connection with rice cultivation and harvest viz. Akhaya Trutia marks the seeding of rice etc.

The Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), now called the ICAR- National Rice Research Institute, is located in Cuttack, the erstwhile capital of Odisha. Orissa was chosen as a place for setting up the research institute because of her rich rice varieties. 

Despite all this, Odisha is not considered the 'Rice Bowl Of India'. Chhatisgarh and Andhra Pradesh earn the said title.
What went wrong? Why Odisha is not recognized for her rice varieties? I am seeking answers.

Odisha has had to suffer very badly from the ravages of nature. Terrible calamities have befallen Odisha. Administrative failure and negligence during the Great Orissa Famine in 1866 cost precious human lives as one-third of the population of Odisha (then Orissa) was wiped out. The British played politics with rice. Rice never reached the intended beneficiaries. It is sad when food-grains are allowed to rot in store-houses and then dispatched back to the shipper, never reaching those for whom they were shipped...

But, the blemished past is no excuse for Odisha's present agricultural prowess.
It is sad, but true, that Odisha has lost many of the indigenous varieties of rice grains. A gusty tribal woman named Kamala Pujari, spent many years of her life in preserving the seeds. She alleges that those have been taken away from her by the M.S.Swaminathan Foundation. Who will help protect these?

As per this article in DownToEarth, Bamboo rice, a rare variety of rice that grows twice or thrice in a century, was recently harvested in the Chandaka-Dampara wildlife sanctuary. This rice has unique characteristics.

Other states have registered many rice varieties as their respective Geographical Indications (GI). There is a need to apply for the GI tag for the rice varieties of Odisha.
It is ironic that the state that has been named after rice, Odisha, is yet to apply for the GI tag for any rice variety...

Do you like to eat rice?

R for- Rice
I am blogging related to Odisha, India for the #AtoZChallenge this year.
Do check out my other #A2Z posts here.

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