Kokrajhar/Guwahati, July 7: Assam agriculture and welfare for plain tribes and other backward classes minister Pramila Rani Brahma today said the Centre’s decision to stop export of organic joha rice, which is grown in the state abundantly, to European countries was “most unfortunate”.
The Centre had announced a ban on non-basmati exports as part of the measures to control inflation.
Speaking to the media at the inauguration of the spillway sluice gate at Jharbari in Kokrajhar district today, she said, “The organic joha produced in the state was in high demand in European countries. But it is unfortunate that the export of joha rice to other countries has been stopped.”
The cultivators of the state have criticised the ban on export of joha to European countries. Though the cultivator’s enthusiasm in producing joha rice was dampened, the minister said she would encourage them by requesting chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the Centre to ensure that aromatic rice produced in the state be categorised as export quality along with basmati rice.
Recently, the Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters (FASS) had requested the development of the northeastern region (DoNER) minister Mani Shanker Aiyer to lift the ban on export of joha rice, which is being categorised as a non-basmati variety.
The organisation said in the government records there were two categories of rice varieties — basmati and non-basmati. Since joha is categorised under the non-basmati category, it was banned.
“Joha rice is far superior to other varieties of premium rice in the world. It is definitely superior to basmati,” FASS secretary general Bidyananda Barkakoty said.
The organisation has requested the minister that joha be categorised under the basmati category so that it can be exported.