Fifteen farmer groups from across the State, have displayed over 300 strains of rice cultivated by them at ‘Kempakki Mela’ here.
The three-day mela will conclude on Monday. It has introduced consumers to the world of paddy hitherto unknown to many whose choice was restricted to polished rice. Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samrudha, an organisation advocating organic farming and promoting indigenous variety of paddy, told The Hindu that change in food habits and growing preference for junk food was driving down the market demand for traditional rice varieties. Hence farmers had come together to protect rice varieties and showcase them to the public, he said.
Karibhatta, Kalame, Karikalave, Sannakki, and so on are popular medicinal varieties and people in the Varada river basin of Sagara and Soraba regions cultivate them. The rice is pounded and mixed with jaggery and consumed as tonic to keep the body cool, said Mr. Krishnaprasad.
Likewise, Karikalave is cultivated in Gulbarga and Bidar and is effective in curing acidity and cold, while Sannakki grown around Sirsi is known for its medicinal value, he added.
Other varieties like Karibhatta, Navara, Sidda Sanna, Rajamudi, Jeerige Sanna, Ratnachoodi, Chinnaponne and Salem Sanna are on display too.
For M. Rechanna, a farmer from Kollegal, production of desi rice is his contribution to preserving the cultural heritage of the country. Mr. Rechanna has 12 varieties of desi rice cultivated on his plot. “These desi varieties such as Salem Sanna, Gowri Sanna, Ratnachoodi or Gandasale do not require fertilizer and hence are eco-friendly. Even water requirement is relatively less and yield varies from 15 to 20 quintals an acre,” said Mr. Rechanna, who gave up chemical farming 10 years ago.