Indian scientists claim to have developed a rice variety that requires no cooking, only soaking in water.

The rice variety developed at the government-run Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) at Cuttack in Orissa is characterized by low amylase content and becomes soft on soaking in water, institute director Tapan Kumar Adhya said in an interview.

Production of rice in India is extensive and last year’s production figure stands at 98.5 million tonnes. The present variety, he said, can serve specific niche consumers and make rice cooking a hassle-free affair.

The new variety, named Aghanibora, tested by the institute is of 145 days duration with a yield of 4-4.5 tonnes per hectare and is at par with the currently grown rice varieties in the country, he said.

“One can get ready to eat rice after soaking it for about 45 minutes in ordinary water, and 15 minutes if soaked in lukewarm water, whereas other rice varieties need cooking,” Mr. Adhya said.

The rice is a local, improved land variety of Assam under the ‘Komal chawl’ category and is not genetically modified rice. It is like any other rice variety grown and consumed in India.

“However, this variety is usually prepared as parboiled rice and then it can be used for consumption after milling,” the researcher said.

The initial experimentation was to test whether the rice variety could be grown in the hot and humid climate of Orissa and still retain the property of softness.

Scientists at the institute have done extensive research over the past three years and tested its nutritional properties and other biochemical parameters, he said.

“We are glad that our experiment has proved successful, and from our knowledge we believe it could be grown in the eastern states of India,” he said.

“The present rice variety is an already released variety and can be taken up by the farmers with the availability of the seeds,” Mr. Adhya said.

According to the institute director, the rice variety can be grown in all the eastern states of Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and coastal Andhra Pradesh. “As such there is no technical barrier in cultivating it in any part of the country,” he said.

“We do not have knowledge of any other country developing such rice variety as rice is a cereal with huge diversity.

“We do not have specific data about the average household requirement of fuel. But this variety of rice will help in saving fuel, at least for cooking of rice. Moreover, it will be a relief to housewives,” he said.