Nagaon, Aug. 9: The Dhemaji district administration aims at exporting 300 tonnes of rice to the US this season.
The administration had launched the mission to export organic red rice to the US last year and according to records, 34 tonnes had been sent.
A high-level source in the administration today told The Telegraph that the first consignment of 29.4 tonnes had already been despatched this year and the process of procuring the remaining 270.3 tonnes is on. It will be exported by September.
Deputy commissioner M.S. Manivannan said according to the agreement between the Haryana-based Nature Bio Food Ltd and the local administration, export of red rice from the district will be increased in a phased manner.
“A farmer gets Rs 15 for each kg of red rice. This system rescues the farmers from the grip of middlemen,” said a source in the Dhemaji district unit of the Assam State Agriculture Marketing Board.
The board purchases red rice from farmers in Gogamukh. Altogether 1.2 tonnes of red rice per hectare are produced in the district. “This year, we aim at increasing red rice production from 4,000 tonnes to 8,000 tonnes,” Manivannan said.
According to him, the agriculture department and local administration support the farmers for red rice cultivation. “Our stress is on infrastructure development to give transparency to the export process. Recently, we initiated the government common infrastructure facility project, which includes construction of granaries, threshing floors and imparting training to the farmers.”
District agriculture officer Mahendra Phukan said normally four varieties of red rice are cultivated — maguri, phuti, kokuwa and amona.
These varieties are harvested after more than 180 days. People prefer these varieties for their protein, zinc and iron content and for its water tolerance in low-lying areas.
Farmers in Dhemaji, a flood-prone district, generally cultivate the bao paddy.
“These are sown before the floods. When the water level rises, this variety survives even after being submerged. The soil condition and climate of northern Assam give the farmers good returns,” said an agriculture department source. Dhemaji has more than 47,000 hectares of autumn paddy, of which more than 15,000 hectares are low-lying.