GI-tagged Kalanamak rice variety thrives in 9 districts watered by Saryu canal

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Buddha’s mahaprasad ‘Kalanamak’ rice, which is nutritious and aromatic, is soon set to make farmers prosperous.

Saryu canal, which has derived its name from the Saryu river in Ayodhya, Lord Ram’s birthplace, will provide irrigation facility to nine districts of Poorvanchal — Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur and Maharajganj — for which Kalanamak has got Geographic Indication (GI) tag, and help in boosting its production.

Kalanamak has been declared Siddharthnagar’s one district one product (ODOP), but GI signifies that paddy cultivated in districts having a similar agricultural climate will have similar taste, aroma and nutritional value.

Kalanamak has GI tag for 11 districts of Purvanchal (Gorakhpur, Devaria, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharthnagar, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur and Gonda).

Of these, Bahraich and Siddharthnagar are NITI Aayog’s aspirational districts.

The governments in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre focused on the most important aspect of agricultural investment – irrigation facility. The government has given proof of its commitment by completing the Saryu canal project after five decades.

Kalanamak’s history dates back to 600 BC. Legend has it that it is the ‘prasad’ of Lord Buddha who had eaten kheer (rice pudding) made of Kalanamak rice and distributed it among his disciples.

In October, prominent people who had come from countries practicing Buddhism for the inauguration of the international airport at Kushinagar were given Tathagat’s prasad kalanamak as a gift.

Kalanamak is matchless not only in aroma but it contains more zinc and iron than other varieties of rice.

As Kalanamak’s glycemic index is low, it is good for diabetics.

As per the Regional Food Research and Analysis Centre Lucknow, Kalanamak is the only natural rice variety which provides vitamin.

This research was done at the initiative of PRDF, which has been working in the field of conservation and promotion of Kalanamak.

As per a report submitted by the organisation on November 26, 100 grams of Kalanamak contains 0.42 grams of vitamin A (Beta Carotene) and 0.53 grams of carotenoids.

Agriculture expert Girish Pandey said as Kalanamak is a crop of Purvanchal, Yogi Adityanath, even before assuming office as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, was aware of its nutritional value. That is the reason that Adityanath in January, 2018, on the occasion of the Foundation Day of Uttar Pradesh, announced the ambitious scheme of ODOP.

A discussion was held on this in the previous Union budget.

The Centre’s intention was to declare ODOP for important departments. It has been done for agriculture and horticulture crops.

That time Kalanamak was declared ODOP for six districts — Gorakhpur, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj and Balrampur.

After the inclusion of Kalanamak in ODOP, the government tremendously branded it.

According to internationally acclaimed paddy breeder R.C. Chaudhary, paddy cultivation benefits from late rain, increasing the produce to nearly one quintal per hectare.

Medium, small and micro enterprise (MSME) Additional Chief Secretary Navneet Sehgal said farmers’ happiness is the first priority of the double engine government. In view of this, both the governments (Central and Uttar Pradesh) included Kalanamak in ODOP.

The districts for which kalanamak has got GI are covered by the Saryu canal.

With the availability of abundant water in the productive areas, the chances of Kalanamak production will be better, benefitting thousands of farmers.

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