The women farmers from Himachal Pradesh received a special award for their efforts to conserve red rice. The members of the Rohru Red Rice Farmers' Society in the state were conferred with the Plant Genome Saviour Award by the agriculture minister, Narendra Singh Tomar in New Delhi.
This is India's highest prize that is given to the farmers for their notable contribution in the conservation of certain plant varieties. It includes a monetary prize of ₹10 lakhs, along with a memento and a citation. The award was received by the society's president Varsha Sharma, with the members Leela Vati, Dipna Mehta and Meena Kumari in tow with her.
Along with the team, the scientist-in-charge of the rice and wheat research station, Dr Ajai Srivastava, from the Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University (HPAU), was also present.
Locally Known As 'Chhohartu'
This variety's colloquial name is known as 'Chhohartu.' According to the Hindustan Times, this variety is categorised under 'Japonica Red Rice.' It is cultivated in villages such as Peja, Masli, Jangli, Daboli, Kaloti, on an area around 1000 hectares and at an altitude from 1300m to 2100m. These villages are situated in Chhohara valley in the Rohru sub-division of the state. All of these villages are located on the banks of the Pabbar river.
The Chhohartu rice is considered to be rich in zinc and iron, along with elements of vitamins. The locals believe that the excess water that is poured off after cooking the rice is extremely beneficial for pregnant women. Its outer layer is red in colour and is known for being sold at a higher price in the market.
The HPAU helped register the variety with the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority (PPVFRA). Vice-Chancellor, Prof HK Chaudhary, lauded their efforts. He also assured that the farming community in the state will get all the help needed for similar future endeavours as well.