- Sri Lanka
OCOP: Red rice
Sri Lanka has rich biodiversity of traditional red rice, which is nutritious, healthy and potential for domestic market and export promotion. Red Rice (Oryza sativa) is a special variety of rice that gets its colour red from its anthocyanins content. Sri Lankan red rice is rich in protein, iron and anti-oxidants than the normal white rice. It is a gluten-free whole grain rice suitable for vegetarians, and vegans. The red fragrant rice from Sri Lanka has a low Glycemic Index (GI) lower than 48. The major nutrient in red rice is anthocyanin (flavonoid with medicinal properties: blood pressure and diabetes control, improve vision, and reduces cancer cells). Literature shows that the vitamin B1 and B2 and fibre contents of red rice is also higher than the common basmati or white rice.
Red rice type is currently underutilized by research and development organization, even though there are some improved varieties of red rice released from national research system. It is grown in small area in various parts of the country, especially in southern part by the smallholder non-commercial farmers. It is grown under low input conditions with limited use of external chemical inputs. Red rice is used in different local food recipes such as in rice soup (Rathu sahul Pittue), pudding, salad, idli, appam and dosa etc. The very earthy flavour of red matta rice also goes very well with lamb, beef or goat meats. Red rice is also used in various modern food recipes such as in the preparation of biscuits, crackers, and other products. Sri Lankan red rice is marketed as traditional healthy rice with high market price in both domestic and export markets. There are many varieties among which fragrant red rice (rath suwadal) is popular. Because of its rich nutrition and health value and indigenous to Sri Lanka, it has potential to be marketed and exported with its unique Geographic Indication (GI) branding. Therefore, red rice can be promoted as green agriculture since it is nutritious, indigenous to Sri Lanka and produced by smallholder farmers under low inputs with its high potential to improve income and livelihood of smallholder farmers.