On a mission to revive traditional rice varieties

At a time when the farming community here is switching to cash crops to tide over the huge loss in paddy cultivation, Thirunelly Agri Producer Company Ltd., a farmers’ collective in Kerala’s Wayanad district, has taken the plunge to revive rice production, albeit in a different avatar. The company made its beginning with 10 shareholders — primarily paddy farmers from Thrissilery village of Thirunelly grama panchayat. In a year, farmer-shareholder count has risen to 41, with a share capital of Rs. 8 lakh. The collective has been engaged not only in conserving and propagating traditional rice varieties by following organic methods of cultivation, but also in procuring them from its members at a premium and selling the end product at an affordable price, after making some value additions. Focus on fair price “The company was constituted last year as an agri start-up to ensure fair price for the produce of farmers who are doing ecological farming, besides ensuring consumers get safe food at an affordable cost. In the process, [we] generate rural employment,” says Rajesh Krishnan, the CEO of the company, who is also a farmer. The firm’s main focus is to revive traditional paddy varieties of Wayanad, which include aromatic rice varieties such as Gandhakasala and Mullan kaima, and others including Thondi, Paal Thondi and Chennellu , says chairman O.V. Johnson. Chennellu and Mullankaima are known for their nutritional and medicinal properties, he added. While the government procures paddy at a minimum support price of Rs. 25.30 a kg, the company offers Rs. 30 for traditional rice varieties and Rs. 50 a kg for aromatic varieties. These are sold in the market from Rs. 70 to Rs. 110 a kg, and the profit is given to members as incentives. Aiming to promote the Mullan Kaima variety, the company has expanded cultivation on 8 acres of land this season. In FY18, it procured 35 tonnes of organically-grown traditional varieties of paddy. This year, procurement is projected at about 100 tonnes from around 65 farmers, including two self-help groups.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/on-a-mission-to-revive-traditional-rice-varieties/article25760082.ece

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