In what appears to be a major boost to farm exports from Uttar Pradesh, the state is set to send a consignment of 20 tons of Buddha rice, popularly known as Kalanamak rice, one of the finest varieties of aromatic rice in India, to Singapore soon.
The consignment will be sent to Singapore from Siddharth Nagar by the end of March this year.
Additional Chief Secretary (MSME and Export Promotion) Navneet Sehgal said that the rice was being packaged in attractive glass jars with all its qualities clearly mentioned on it.
"One can read the qualities by simply scanning the barcode," he said.
According to agricultural scientist Dr Ramchet Chaudhury, the packaging of the rice has already started and it will be ready for export soon.
Also known as 'Buddha ka Mahaprasad' (an offering to Lord Buddha), the Kalanamak rice has been rebranded as 'Buddha rice', presenting it as an offering made to the Buddhist monks, in order to promote it in Buddhist countries.
The packaging of the rice carries a popular quote of Lord Buddha saying: "The unique aroma of the rice will remind people about me."
The export of the rice is being seen as a morale booster for farmers cultivating Buddha rice in Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Siddharth Nagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Bahraich, Balrampur, Gonda and Shravasti, which, according to the Geographical Indications (GI), share similar climate.
In order to promote the production, processing, packaging and branding of Kalanamak rice, the UP government has declared it as the One District One Product (ODOP) of Siddharth Nagar whereas the Central government has announced it as the ODOP of Basti, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj and Sant Kabir Nagar as well.
The move to export this rice to Buddhist countries is being hailed by farmers, who feel that if a market for the rice is created in countries like Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, it will benefit them immensely.
Dr Chaudhury said that historically, Kalanamak rice was grown at Bajaha village in Siddharth Nagar district during the period of Lord Buddha. It is said that Lord Buddha broke his fast on the Hiranyavati bank with pudding made of the same rice and had distributed it as offering among devotees.
The rice also finds mention in Chinese traveller Fa-hien's account.
This rice is not only highly aromatic but also healthy and delicious. Birdpur block of Siddharth Nagar is specially known for the cultivation of this rice.
Meanwhile, a Kalanamak rice festival on the pattern of strawberry festival will be held in the state in near future. There is also a plan to set up a Kalanamak Rice Research Centre at Siddharth Nagar in cooperation with the International Rice Research Centre, Varanasi.