Mushkbudji : Fragranced Rice Cultivated In Kashmir

Agriculture

Before the introduction and popularization of China-varieties, many indigenous landraces including Mushkbudji were grown on a large scale across Kashmir. More than 100 landraces have been documented from Kashmir valley, however, majority of them got fast replaced from farmer’s field by the high yielding varieties, and were pushed to some specific pockets of the valley, where they are being grown by a few households, but on small land holdings. Great genetic erosion has occurred for the last 5-6 decades during which major proportion of local rice biodiversity was lost. The reasons attributed to loss of heritage rice of Kashmir are their low yielding potential, susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stresses particularly to paddy blast and less share of benefits to the growers because of unscrupulous activities of brokers, while milling and marketing of the product. In the backdrop of these facts Mushkbudji revival programme was undertaken in 2007 by Khudwani Centre of SKUAST-Kashmir with the objective to conserve local biodiversity through utilization for socio-economic development of rice growers under the leadership of Dr. Tej Pratap Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-Kashmir and able guidance of Dr. Shafiq A Wani, Director Research.

Further, the demand for original Mushkbudji was felt from different sections of the society. SKUAST-Kashmir developed the purified version of Mushkbudji and devised an integrated nutrient and disease management modules through rigorous experimentation for six long years at Khudwani Centre.

During Kharif 2011, the performance of purified version against the older version was demonstrated in the farmer’s field in the Saagam village of District Anantnag, a popular niche belts of local heritage rices of Kashmir. Simultaneously the seed multiplication programme was undertaken in the farmers’ field in the same season in compact blocks by providing them pure seed produced at the Khudwani Centre. The year 2013 proved as a success story during which an area of 50 ha in 5 adjoining villages was brought under Mushkbudji and about 1500q seed was produced with the close coordination of line department. The programme was highly applauded by Governor of Jammu & Kashmir State Mr. N.N.Vohra JI during 3rd Agriculture Science Congress organized by SKUAST-K.

In this regard SKUAST-Kashmir invited market entrepreneurs and millers for creating smooth and sustainable market facility to safeguard interests of farmers and other stake holders. The programme has been proposed to extend and to bring other niche belts and equivalent ecologies of Kashmir valley under aromatic rice cultivation. Jammu based rice exporter M/s Sarveshwar Organic Foods Limited has now entered into the procurement, milling and trading of branded Mushkibudji under his trade mark. During 2014, 4000-5000 qt seed of aromatic rice was produced in the village Sagam although unfavorable year for rice crop owing to floods and cold stress at critical stage of crop growth. M/s Sarveshwar Organic Foods Limited again lifted the major portion of the harvest and provided handsome cash to farmers at their threshing floor. Presently there is surplus stock available in the market and people can have the taste of the heritage rice of Kashmir valley. Mushkbudji, which few years back was diminishing at an alarming rate is now available in the market in the original form. The area under this rice is expected to surpass 300 ha in Kharif 2015. This special rice variety cannot be grown everywhere as it needs specific agro-ecology and peculiar climatic conditions and furthermore needs expertise in production/protection technology and availability of good quality seed from a reliable source. As against Rs. 2500.00/qtl, the price for normal rices of Kashmir, a farmer gets eight times more for Mushkbudji. Despite strict requirements, we can grow Mushkbudji on an area of around 5000 ha and its cultivation could prove positive on socio-economic conditions of rice growers. In addition to Mushkbudji other aromatic land races like Kamad is also in revival mode and is available in the market.

The programme became successful only because of the fact that entire local biodiversity is being maintained by SKUAST-K at its Khudwani Centre, where both indigenous and exotic germplasm numbering more than 500 are being conserved, maintained and further utilized through concerted breeding efforts because we need these lines not only for present use but for posterity

Courtesy by: greaterkashmir

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