Farmer Ghani Khan has literally brought back to life the once traditional rice diversity that was growing naturally by growing 567 different strains of rice. Rice harvested from each variety has come out with its unique colour, size, and shape retaining its original flavour.
Hailing from Kirugavulu in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district, 36 year old Ghani Khan completed his BA in Archeology and Musicology and is striving hard to revive and maintain the rice diversity.
Since the time of his great-grandfather Syed Ghani Khan, all his family members were into agriculture, not growing rice but instead growing 250 varieties of mango at 'Bada Bagh' orchard, gifted by the erstwhile ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan.
Now four generations later, Ghani Khan has completely changed the outlook of his ancestral farm by growing 567 different strains of rice, along with the mangoes, in addition to 60 varieties of medicinal plants, sugarcane, guava, aromatic plants and Teak Silver Oak (agro-forestry) along the boundaries of his 20 acres of land.
Rice planted in the one acre of his land is meant only for seed production,
drawing farmers from far and near places. The rice varieties grown here were collected from five different States and also from other countries.
“Things changed after the KRS dam was constructed. While hitherto distinct varieties of rice like Coimbatore Sanna, Raja Bhog, Bangaru Sanna, Bangaru Kaddi, Kaddi Batha, and Doddibatha that were being grown traditionally here came to end. With the availability of ample supply of water round the year high yielding rice varieties were taken up for cultivation. Slowly the diverse rice crops vanished from the fields,” said Ghani.
With the intention of reviving and restoring the lost strains he single-handedly began collecting traditional rice seeds in 1998 and ended collecting a record 567 varieties of paddy strains. He thanked the organic farming association like Sahaja Samrudha for helping him in his endeavor to collect seeds from different regions.
Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudha said, “Ghani’s concern for conservation of biodiversity has influenced many farmers to conserve traditional rice varieties and his experiment has made even scientists and officials to take note of his efforts, and have applauded his venture.”
Some of the diverse strains revived in his field are Rajabhog, which is a weed
suppresser, Anandi a variety from Dharwad with a high yielding capacity, Jeeriga Samba a popular variety among farmers known for its aroma, Parimalasanna.
Two varieties of Burma black rice, some of the varieties from Orissa like
kalakali, baingan mangi, Govindbhog (a sacred variety used as offering to God Krishna); Maharashtra varieties like sagvad, an upland variety used for pooha, maladi a medicinal rice used in treatment of fractured bones, HMT variety, Kasubai another aroma variety, Raj Gudiyapa a dry land medicinal rice variety used for treating weakness and Dharisal, Tulasiya, Sheerabathi, Thamadisala, rathbath amongst several others can be found here.
Chinnaponni, Kempudoddi, Halublu, Rajakayame, Rasakadam,Gamgadale, Burmablack, Kagisali, Ambimohar, Gamsale, Kottayane, Bilinellu, Gandhasale, NMS2, Rajmudi, Ratnachudi, Gowrisanna, Jeerigesanna, Bilidoddi, , Gambatha, Jeerigesale and several others are grown here.