Local Varieties of Rice, A Very Valuable Source of Biodiversity

Maybe some of us know that there used to be a national superior rice named IR 64. IR 64 is one of the many names of rice that was launched in 1986 by President Soeharto. IR rice, government rice, superior rice are other names for IR 64.

Apart from that, there is also rice which is called Pandan WangiPandan Wangi is a local variety of rice from Cianjur, which has been developed since the 1970s. In addition, there are also Rojolele, Padi Ketan (glutinous rice), and other types of rice.

In fact, there are so many types of rice that it cannot be counted with ten fingers. As in Kasepuhan alone, you can find at least 34 rice varieties that are physically available (at the Pare Gede Festival in Kasepuhan Cirompang, October 2015 held by RMI). Through discussions with customary figures, they mentioned that there are at least 40 types of local rice there called pare gede (characterized by its tall plant shape).

Each of these varieties also has its own advantages because it has adapted well to its environment. Some are resistant to certain pests, some have different colours (black, red, white, brown), some are drought resistant, some have different flavours, and many more. Another advantage is that this variety of unhulled rice can be stored for a very long time in the traditional barn of the Kasepuhan community called the leuit (rice barn).

When visiting Kasepuhan, occasionally, we are treated with local rice which has been stored for around 20 years. The taste is still delicious, only differs in a deeper brown colour or maybe the origin of the variety is indeed brown rice.

The people of Kasepuhan added, that government superior rice (also known as pare leutik by local people) planted in the same location can only last a maximum of one year if stored because it will spoil. The seeds fall out immediately after harvesting. Its high productivity comes at a price for its inability to be stored.

These local rice varieties are a very valuable source of biodiversity. They are not the past but a hope for the future. These local rice varieties are still here because they are preserved by the Kasepuhan community, therefore indigenous peoples and their cultures need to be recognized, protected, and be fulfilled of their rights.

Author: Indra N. Hatasura

Editor: Siti Marfu’ah

Translator: Alfina Khairunnisa

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