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Uttarakhand government moves to conserve fading Doon Basmati rice

Doon Basmati, a rice variety known for its rich aroma and distinctive flavour, is fading fast as the area where it is grown is getting lost to fast paced urbanisation

dehradun Updated: Jan 15, 2018 21:11 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,Doon Basmati,rice
Doon Basmati, besides being a rare variety of rice, is an intrinsic part of Dehradun’s rich heritage, an official says.(HT File Photo)

Doon Basmati, a rice variety known for its rich aroma and distinctive flavour, is fading fast as the area where it is grown is getting lost to fast paced urbanisation.

A beginning has now been made to “conserve and propagate” this exclusive variety of cereal which is endemic to the scenic Doon valley.

“Doon Basmati is a species of rice that is not found elsewhere in the world but it is fading fast,” said Rakesh Kumar Shah, the chairman of Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board.

“We are now preparing a plan to conserve and propagate this rare variety of organically produced rice besides replicating it elsewhere in the state,” he told Hindusan Times on Monday.

Shah said a plan aimed to revive Doon Basmati rice would soon be chalked out in consultation with farmers.

“As part of this move, we have set up an expert group comprising officials and scientists,” he said, adding that it (expert group) would study ways and means to rejuvenate that exclusive variety of rice.

“The experts will soon compile a report based on their study, which will be submitted to the state government for its implementation,” Shah said.

“The step is being taken to conserve and propagate Doon Basmati because besides being a rare variety of rice it is also an intrinsic part of Dehradun’s rich heritage.”

Doon Basmati was developed by the rice growers in the Doon valley, he said. A number of factors like shrinking agricultural land owing to the fast paced urbanisation led to the fast fading of that exclusive variety of rice.

“Lack of marketing facilities and the government support such as subsidies were other factors that pushed Doon Basmati rice to the brink of extinction,” Shah said.

Surya Prakash Bahuguna, a rice grower, said Doon Basmati rice was also once grown in what “has now developed into a massive urban area”.

“Farming of Doon Basmati rice is now confined to a few areas that can be counted on finger tips,” he explained referring to Haripur, Dhakrani, Dharmawala, Pratitpur, Ambawadi etc.

Shah said not much is now known about the real variety of Doon Basmati rice which is known by its botanical term ‘Oryza sativa Type 3’.

“In fact, a host of other varieties of Basmati rice are sold in the name of Doon Basmati,” he said, adding that it “is as a very delicate” variety of rice.

“It is endemic to the Doon valley owing to its typical agro-climatic conditions. Besides, this species of rice survives in running water only,” Shah said.

“Then, it is an absolutely organically produced cereal which tends to lose its aroma and flavour if chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used in growing it.”

The study being carried out by the expert group would take into consideration all these aspects. “This group will also have a representative of an organic certification agency as one of its members,” Shah said.

Plans were also underway to carry out Geographical Indications Registry of Doon Basmati rice, so it could be patented.

“We are also creating a seed bank of this exclusive variety of rice with the help of farmers who grow it,” Shah said, adding robust marketing facilities would also be created.

Plans were also afoot to create a gene pool of Doon Basmati rice.

“We will recommend that the state government also propagate this rare variety of rice in other areas of the state where agro-climatic conditions will suit it,” Shah said.

Bahuguna appreciated the efforts being made by the board to rejuvenate Doon Basmati rice.

He, however, hoped that the move the board “has initiated will be taken to its logical conclusion”.

First Published: Jan 15, 2018 21:11 IST