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Export of Red Rice from Assam and India’s Pursuit for Nutrient-rich Rice for Its People

Ever-since the pandemic shattered lives globally, the focus on consumption of foods that are nutrient-rich and healthy has been getting a renewed focus. The development in the sphere of rice is encouraging in this context.

On March 4, 2021 the first consignment of Assam’s ‘red rice’ was flagged off to the USA.

This red rice variety grows in Brahmaputra valley and an integral part of the Assamese food. It is Iron rich, a proposition that makes it different and valuable from other varieties of rice. Another unique proposition of this variety is that it is grown without using any chemical fertilizers and is called ‘Bao-dhaan’.

What is in it for farmers if the red rice is exported to other countries?

As the exports of ‘red rice’ grow, it would enhance incomes of farming families of the Brahmaputra flood plains.

During the April – January period of 2020-21, the shipment of non-Basmati rice witnessed an impressive spike. The non-basmati rice exports was ₹26,058 crore (3506 US$ Million) during April-January, 2021 against ₹11,543 crore (1627US$ Million) reported during April-January, 2020 period. The exports of non-Basmati witnessed a growth of 125% in Rupee term and 115% Dollar terms.

Making Nutrient-Rich Rice Available Domestically

The export story of the red rice variety makes us recall the domestic efforts of the Indian government in providing nutrient-rich rice to people. Through fortification of rice and making it available through PDS and mid-day meals, India is trying to address malnourishment.

In February 2019, a Pilot Scheme on “Fortification of Rice and its Distribution under Public Distribution System” began. The pilot scheme for the period of three years beginning 2019-20 is seeing implementation in 15 districts. Under this programme the rice distributed is fortified with Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin B-12.

For more details, you can refer our earlier article Fortification of Rice – India’s Next Step Towards Providing Nutrition After Feeding the Needy.