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Himachal’s Women Farmers Received Award for Conserving Traditional Rice

Women farmers from Rohru, who were instrumental in cultivating and conserving red rice, locally known as chhohartu, were conferred the Plant Genome Saviour Award by Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar in New Delhi on Thursday.

Ayushi Raina
Red Rice on Table
Red Rice on Table

Union Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar conferred the Plant Genome Saviour Award to women farmers from Rohru who were crucial in producing and conserving red rice, popularly known as chhohartu, in New Delhi on Thursday.

The esteemed award comes with a monetary prize of ten lakh rupees, a citation, and a souvenir. Varsha Sharma, president of the Rohru Red Rice Farmers' Society, and members Leela Vati, Dipna Mehta, and Meena Kumari collected the prize. They were accompanied by Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar of the Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University (HPAU), Palampur, Dr. Ajai Srivastava, scientist in-charge of the rice and wheat research station, and Jubbal subject matter specialist Ram Krishan. 

Professor HK Chaudhary, vice-chancellor of HPAU, greeted the farmers and praised the scientists for their accomplishment. 

According to him, HPAU assisted in the registration of the traditional red rice variety with the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority (PPVFRA) and was crucial in the formation of a community of red rice growers. 

The Plant Genome Saviour Award is India's highest award given to farmers for their contributions contributions to plant variety conservation and development. 

According to Chaudhary, red rice is grown over an area of 1,000 hectares in villages like Peja, Masli, Jangla, Daboli, and Kaloti in Rohru subdivision's Chhohara valley, on the banks of the Pabbar River, at altitudes ranging from 1,300m to 2100m. It's classified as Japonica red rice. 

The nutritionally superior red kernelled Chhohartu rice fetches a higher price, is rich in iron and zinc, as well as several trace elements and vitamins, and in addition has significant antioxidant capabilities.

Locals think that the surplus water of thick consistency decanted after cooking red rice is good for pregnant women. 

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