Assamís joha rice goes organic, heads for European market

The first consignment of joha rice, a naturally aromatic variety of rice traditionally grown in Assam, was despatched for the European market today.

The rice is being organically cultivated under a special project with the European market on mind. The authorities are hoping for bigger orders in the next few years. The first consignment containing 17.5 metric tons of joha, graded in both size and colour, is also the first batch of joha rice that received organic certification a couple of months ago. The consignment was flagged off by state Agriculture Minister Pramila Rani Brahma.

State agriculture department senior development officer B Kalita said, "At present, the department is supporting 154 joha farmers in over 91 hectares of land across three districts in northern Assam and the output has been quite encouraging," Kalita said.

"The production was better in 2005-6, with the farmers earning good sum by making an overall production of about 133 tons," Kalita said. And while the rice is being dispatched at Rs 28 per kg from Guwahati to a Haryana-based exporter, the farmer on ground will get at least Rs 1,000 per quintal of paddy, he added.

Agriculture Production Commissioner Bhaskar Mushahary said, "Since organically grown items are becoming increasingly popular, certain items from Assam like joha rice, oranges, pineapples and honey have tremendous scope in the international market."

Rajkamal Bajaj, whose unit in Guwahati is milling, processing and dispatching the rice for export, said, "With joha attracting attention from both domestic and international buyers, a well-planned export strategy could make a big impact on the state's economy."

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