BOKA SAUL: Assam’s famous and magical rice variety get’s GI tag
Boka Saul (oryza sativa), a paddy variety grown in parts of lower Assam, has got the geographical indication (GI) tag, bestowed upon it by the Government of India Intellectual Property India (IPI) body.
Boka Saul or mud rice is cultivated especially during the xaali season (starts in June and ends in December) and is grown in parts of Nalbari, Barpeta, Goalpara, Kamrup, Darrang, Dhubri, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar and Baksa.
“Boka Saul requires zero fuel. The rice does not need to be cooked” said Hemanta Baishya, founder-Member of Lotus Progressive Centre, one of the two organisations who applied for the patent in 2016, as quoted by the The Indian Express.
He added, “Just soak the rice in (cold) water for one hour, and it swells up like a charm. Mix it with curd, jaggery and banana, and it’s ready to eat.”
Baishya told The Indian Express that on July 30, the IPI website updated the status of GI applicants and Boka saul featured in the list.
“We haven’t received the physical copy of our certificate yet. We have been told that it’s coming soon,” said Baishya.
According to a study by the Gauhati University’s Biotechnology department, Boka Saul has 10.73 per cent fibre content and 6.8 per cent protein. The rice is highly nutritious and it also cools down the body.
“During floods, this is a great emergency food for obvious reasons. Going ahead, we hope the government will consider it for its relief programme,” said Simanta Kalita of Centre for environment Education (CEE), Guwahati, as quoted by The Indian Express.
From 2014 onwards, Nalbari-based NGO Lotus Progressive Centre along with CEE has been doing research and running scientific tests in order to acquire a GI tag for the rice.