Magic rice variety from Assam gets GI tag

• In parts of lower Assam, especially during the ‘Xaali’ season (the hottest, most strenuous period of paddy farming that starts in June and ends in December), farmers subsist, almost entirely, on a specific kind of indigenous rice: Boka saul, or ‘mud rice’ which has just been bestowed upon with GI tag by Intellectual Property India.

• Boka Saul is a paddy variety grown in parts of lower Assam. Back in the 17th century, it was the fuel for the Ahom soldiers fighting the Mughal army. Today, it’s fuel for the hundreds of farmers who toil in the fields of Assam every day, for whom it’s become a staple.

• Boka Saul requires zero fuel. The rice does not need to be cooked. Just by soaking it in water for one hour, its ready to eat.

• In Assam, rice occupies a special place on dining tables as well as festivals and other sacred ceremonies – it’s breakfast, it’s lunch and it’s dinner, too.

• While the ‘zero fuel requirement’ rates high on its unique quotient, boka saul is highly nutritious. It has 10.73 percent fibre content and 6.8 percent protein.

• The rice can work well as a ‘disaster management’ food as well as the supplement for soldiers in high-altitude cold frontier areas.

• This new status of the rice might turn things around. Farmers who were up till now, just growing it for themselves, will now grow it for a wider audience and eventually will become a commercially viable crop.