Mrunal Manmay Dash

Odisha is among the states known for a wide variety of rice, the staple food of eastern and north-eastern India and beyond. Thanks to its rich heritage of rice varieties, the State boasts a National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) at Cuttack.

However, one particular rice variety which keeps people waiting for it to be harvested, is bamboo rice. Well, while it cannot be called rice technically, but is nutritious nonetheless.

A particular Women Self Help Group (SHG) in Malagaon under Balasore’s Barunasingh Panchayat has mastered the art of harvesting bamboo rice which is helping them stay afloat financially by selling them in the market.

Bamboo rice is a special rice variety grown out of a dying bamboo shoot. When the bamboo shoot breathes its last, it flowers into a rare variety of rice seeds, which are known as bamboo rice. Harvesting and collecting this crop is a source of income for tribals in several parts of Odisha, including Balasore.

It is not commonly available as it takes many years for a bamboo tree to flower, making it kind of rare and subsequently, costly too. As per The Better India report, the last time it was available in Odisha was way back in the 80’s.

“We clean the area below the bamboo tree and collect the rice, then fan it to blow the dust away. Then we soak the rice in water before drying it in the sun. While we do not know the exact health benefits, but buyers from other districts tend to wait for long to purchase from us,” said a member of the SHG group.

A local of Malagaon village said, “We have been eating this rice from generations. It is healthy. However, its availability is rare, in fact, once in many years."

Although bamboo rice has a slightly sweet taste, it can be cooked like any other regular rice variety. It is believed to contain a low Glycemic Index (GI) compared to other varieties, and is, therefore, good for diabetics.

It is also rich in proteins and does not contain any fat.

The fiber-rich and calorie-dense kernels of bamboo rice are also found in parts of Karnataka, locally known as ‘Mulayiri’. In Kerala, the harvesting of bamboo rice is a major source of income for the tribal communities living in the interiors of Wayanad Sanctuary.

  • Reported by: