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Role of Rice in Boosting Nourishment

  • 21 Sep 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

According to a recent study, as many as 12 folk varieties of Indian rice examined by researchers can supplement the nutritional demand of important Fatty Acids (FA) in undernourished mothers.

  • Rice contains various classes of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, starch and a small amount of protein.

Key Points

  • Fatty Acids:
    • Fatty acids are natural components of fats and oils. These have many important functions in the body, including energy storage.
    • Based on their chemical structure they can be differentiated into three groups: ‘saturated’, ‘mono-unsaturated’ and ‘poly-unsaturated’ fatty acids.
      • Saturated fatty acids (fats) are mainly found in animal foods, such as (fatty) meat, lard, sausage, butter and cheese but even in palm kernel and coconut oil, which are used for frying.
      • Most unsaturated fatty acids (fats) are of plant and fatty fish origin. Meat products contain both saturated and unsaturated fats.
      • Within the family of PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs), there are two different groups: the ‘omega-3-fatty acids ‘and ‘omega-6-fatty acids’.
        • Both are considered essential fatty acids because they cannot be synthesized by humans.
    • Trans fatty acids, more commonly called trans fats, are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas and a catalyst, a process called hydrogenation. These are the worst types of fat for the heart, blood vessels, and rest of the body.
  • Findings of the Study:
    • Helpful for Health:
      • The traditional rice varieties can add essential FAs in the staple diet helping in the normal brain development in infants.
      • Many folk varieties like Athikaraya, Dudh-sar, Kayame, Neelam samba, Srihati, Maharaji and Bhejri are known in folk medicine to enhance milk production in lactating women.
      • Varieties like Kelas, DudheBolta and Bhutmoori are rich in iron and can be included in the diet of mothers to treat anaemia.
    • Address the Problem of Undernutrition:
      • The traditional varieties help address the problem of undernutrition in under five children.
      • India was placed at the 94th spot among 107 countries by the Global Hunger Index 2020. It is calculated on the basis of total undernourishment of the population, child stunting, wasting and child mortality.
    • Contributes to the Economy:
      • Recently, the first export consignment of Bao-dhaan (red rice) from Assam was sent to the US in March 2021. This enhances incomes of farming families.
        • This iron-rich red rice is grown in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, without the use of any chemical fertilizer.
    • Resistance against Disease:
      • Seven rice varieties of North East India — Meghalaya lakang, Chingphourel, Manuikhamei, Kemenyakepeyu, Wainem, Thekrulha, and Koyajang — have the potential to resist leaf and neck blast disease in rice plants.
        • Blast disease caused by fungal pathogen Pyricularia oryzae is a major threat to rice productivity worldwide.
    • Conservation is Cheaper:
      • In situ conservation of these neglected and vanishing varieties of rice, rich in nutrients, is a cheaper option than High-Yielding Varieties (HYVs).
        • HYV seeds were developed by scientists to improve food supplies and reduce famine in developing countries.
        • In situ and ex situ conservation focuses on the maintenance of species diversity within or away from their natural habitats, respectively.


  • It is a kharif crop which requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm.
  • Rice is grown in the plains of north and north-eastern India, coastal areas and the deltaic regions.
  • West Bengal tops the list of rice-producing states followed by Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

Source: DTE

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