Pokkali Rice: Kerala
- 06 Aug 2020
- 3 min read
Why in News
Farmers in West Bengal are experimenting with the pokkali variety of rice to tide over a crisis-like situation created by severe seawater incursion into paddy fields in the Sundarbans (owing to Cyclone Amphan).
- Vyttila-11 varieties of pokkali seedlings were brought from Kerala.
- The pokkali variety of rice is known for its saltwater resistance and flourishes in the rice paddies of coastal Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts of Kerala.
- The single-season paddy is raised in saltwater fields between June and November followed by a season of fish-farming.
- The uniqueness of the rice has brought it the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and is the subject of continuing research.
- Several foreign research institutes, including the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, have been studying pokkali’s gene pools and have identified a portion of DNA on one of its chromosomes that is crucial for salt tolerance.
- Given its ability to thrive under harsh climatic conditions and produce high yield, it can help in promoting climate-resilient agriculture.
- Pokkali has medicinal properties and its higher value of antioxidants and low carbohydrate content makes it preferable to those on a low sugar diet.
- Vyttila-11 is the latest variety of pokkali developed by the Kerala Agricultural University.
- It yields about 5 tonnes per hectare.
- The crop duration is about 110 days.
- Other GI Tag Registered Varieties from Kerala: Kaipad, Wayanad Jeerakasala, Wayanad Gandhakasala, Palakkadan Matta and Navara.
- Further, the Kuttanad below-sea level farming system has been recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS).
- It is unique as it practices rice cultivation below sea level.
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems
- Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) was started by the FAO to safeguard and support the world's agricultural heritage systems.
- GIAHS are outstanding landscapes of aesthetic beauty that combine agricultural biodiversity, resilient ecosystems and a valuable cultural heritage.
- Three recognised GIAHS sites in India:
- Pampore Saffron Heritage of Kashmir.
- Koraput Traditional Agriculture of Odisha.
- Kuttanad Below Sea Level Farming System of Kerala.