An old Kerala family farm is reviving the near-forgotten navara rice variety

In Chittur, in the rice bowl of Kerala, the land flattens conspicuously, its evenness heightened by the undulating Western Ghats that loom large in the background. Here the Shokanashini (destroyer of woes), a tributary of the Bharathapuzha, irrigates the dark soil on which grows luscious paddy. Rains fall often here, enhancing the beauty of the landscape. Of late, peacocks have come to roost and their shrill cries are heard ever so often.

Narayanan Unny’s Navara Eco Farm is snuggled in this picturesque scenery. This 125-year-old, 18-acre farm exclusively produces navara, a rice species acclaimed for its medically beneficial properties.

Consumed traditionally during the wet months of karkidakam and used extensively in the famed navara kizhi Ayurvedic treatment, navara is a rice endemic to Kerala.

Not being a staple variety and used mainly as health food, the rice lost its prominence after the Land Ceiling Act of 1967, when paddy acreage was considerably reduced. In 1994, Narayanan Unny quit his computer business in Kozhikode and took charge of the family farm, after the demise of his father.

He found that the rice with a 60-day life cycle, and consumed periodically, had being reduced to production of a mere 50 acres from the 2,000 that it once commanded. “Even pure navara seeds were not available,” says Unny.

He then made and executed a plan for conservation of navara. It began with a search for pure navara seeds, and not finding any, not even at the Rice Research Centre in Pattambi, Unny began seed purification in 15 cents of land, sowing only navara without another rice variety....Read more


Source web oage: The hindu

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