The aromatic and nutritious black rice of Bengal is soon going to win over palates across the world. Black rice is indigenous to north-east India and is extensively grown in Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand. It is commonly eaten in Manipur because of its medicinal value. Now active plans are afoot to export this variety of rice to Japan, the Gulf countries, Europe and the USA. The plan comes following huge curiosity that the variety of rice evoked at SIAL, an international food festival, dubbed to be the world’s largest, held last February in the epicureans’ capital, Paris.There were a lot of enthusiastic questions to the representatives of Bengal exhibiting the rice regarding when it would be available in Europe. The black rice exhibited at SIAL Paris was grown in Ausgram in Purba Bardhaman district.
The West Bengal Government has plans to set up special processing machines for this variety of rice in all the districts it is grown in. The special processors are required because of the thin skin of this rice variety, which contains the nutritious chemicals and which, hence, cannot be removed. It is this skin too whose colour gives it its name. The variety, though, was discovered in Phulia in Nadia district in 2008, it is currently grown across nine districts of Bengal. It was grown experimentally at the research center of the State’s Agriculture Department after realizing its potential. It is worth mentioning that under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s special initiative, other aromatic rice varieties of Bengal like Gobindobhog and Tulaipanji are being marketed across the country as well as internationally, and now black rice is going to be added to export list as it has already garnered a lot of interest.