Pokkali: Rice and Prawns make an interesting recipe

From India Agricul...

We’ve seen and ate a lot of rice. Short/long, polished/unpolished, and multiple hues make for an abundance of variants. In Kerala we visited a center that promotes and develops Pokkali rice. First of all, this was the best rice we’ve ever tasted. Basmati rice is great but this is better.

Pokkali rice is unusual in that it grows in brackish water. Most plants don’t like salt but Pokkali doesn’t mind. But what really makes Pokkali growing interesting is that the farmers open their irrigation gates to the nearby river to allow baby prawn to come in. Farmers are now fishermen. When the monsoon arrives, the fresh water dilutes the salt in the field to the point that the Pokkali rice will be able to grow.

The big problem the Pokkali farmers have is with mechanization. Labor prices are going up and Pokkali rice grows in high water and is thus difficult for traditional rice harvesters to function. So they want to see a floatable harvester. Unfortunately, the number of farmer growing this rice are so few that no one will find it worth inventing a new harvester. That’s sad because this rice both tastes great and it uses land that would be otherwise unusable.

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