Anantnag: Perfect for the region’s cold climate, Mushkbudij, an aromatic rice variety of Kashmir valley, is all set to hit foreign markets as the agriculture department is expanding the cultivation area in the valley due to its huge demand.
Mushkbudji, an aromatic variety of rice grown only in the Valley which has gained GI tag and conservation of the rice variety has been appreciated at state and central level by awarding a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh as “Genome Saviour Community Award”.
Thirty years back, the Mushkbudji rice variety of Kashmir was grown on a large scale. However, its cultivation took a back seat when exotic varieties, which were giving more returns to farmers, were introduced in the valley.
The revival programme started way back in 2007 with the survey of niche areas where these strains could be traced out through different sources. Under the revival programme village Sagam in Kokarnag belt and adjoining villages were identified for demonstration on purified Mushk Budji. In the process of popularizing variety among farmers in mid belts of district Anantnag an excellent example of coordination between SKUAST-Kashmir, department of agriculture and the farming community could be seen.
Figures accessed reveal that there was around five thousand quintal production of Mushkbudij rice in the last three years in Kashmir valley. “Mushkbudij rice production in Anantnag, Ganderbal and Baramulla district in 2020 was 14.54 quintals, in the year 2021 it was 17.45 quintals while in 2022 it was 17.38 quintals”, figures said.
Figures state that Anantnag district in south Kashmir alone produces 44.86 quantals. “Besides Anantnag, Baramulla and Ganderbal, the cultivation of Muskbudji rice will be expanded to Kulgam and Kupwara districts also”, the date shows
It shows 244 hectares of land under cultivation of Muskbudji rice in 2020, 248 hectares in 2021 and 280 hectares in 2022. “For next five years the proposed plan for expansion of Muskbudji rice in Kashmir valley is 999 hectares of land”, the data states.
Dr. Tasneem Mubarak, Chief Scientist Agronomy MRCFC—SKUAST-K told KNO that Mushkbudji was a traditional crop in Kashmir but due to blast disease and new varieties with high yield and disease resistance, people abandoned it.
Leaf blast affected the production following which SKUAST-K started a programme for its revival and all strains were collected, screened and identified varieties for revival. “All aspects have been identified to standardize and demonstrate it in Sagam area of Kokernag belt and presently farmers have been cultivating it well there,” he said.
He said that all such areas are being identified where the environment is favourable for it so that it can be cultivated in other areas but in plains it gets affected. “University developed a blast resistant version of Mushk Budji that can be tried in plain areas but it is still under testing. Demand for it is growing with each passing day,” Tasneem.
Director Agriculture Kashmir Chowdhary Muhammad Iqbal said that Muskbudji rice has got GI tagging and more and more areas are being brought under cultivation. “There is a demand for the same in the international market,” he said. Iqbal said that there were 120 hectares under it and we have taken it to 500 hectare and efforts are on to increase it to 1000 hectares, he said. He said that it costs around Rs 15,000-20,000 per quintal. (KNO)