Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Patna Rice: Gem of Nineteenth Century Trade in Patna

Well into the late nineteenth century Patna remained one of the premier entrepôts of north India. Registered "internal trade" figures, which generally underestimated interdistrict trade, such as that between Gaya and Patna, in fact reveal that Patna had the largest trade of any district in Bengal. In 1876-77, registered exports were valued at Rs. 36,222,400, or 11.1 times the value of goods sent out in the 1810s; total imports were estimated at Rs. 44,651,000, or 6.8 times the 1810s value. This trend accords perfectly with the now well-established pattern of increasing trade in the late nineteenth century, particularly of certain kinds of medium- and low-value agricultural goods. From nearby districts flowed grains of all sorts, appearing as both exports and imports because they were transferred in and out of the city. Rice came from Purnia, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, and Saran; high-quality Patna rice, "celebrated throughout Bengal for its fineness," was sent out to Murshidabad and Calcutta as well as to Banaras.

Mughal Emperor Akbar and Patna Rice

Mughal emperor Akbar (جلال الدین محمد اکبر) came to Patna in 1574 to crush the Afghan Chief Daud Khan. Akbar's Secretary of State and author of Ain-i-Akbari refers to Patna as a flourishing centre for paper, stone and glass industries. He also refers to the high quality of numerous strains of rice grown in Patna famous as Patna rice in Europe and America.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Rice Cultivation In India

1.High Productivity > 2,500 Kg/Hectare.
2.Medium Productivity = 2,000-2,500 Kg/Hectare.
3.Medium-Low Productivity = 1,500-2,000 Kg/Hectare.
4.Low-Productivity = 1,000-1,500 Kg/Hectare.
5.Very-Low Productivity <>

Patna Rice on Telegraph

Found this on Telegraph.UK link
Q Years ago, one was always advised to use "long-grain patna rice" for everything except puddings and risottos. Is it still available today? RJ, London W6

A Patna is simply a variety of long-grain white rice, grown extensively around Patna, the capital of Bihar state in India. It has a longer grain than basmati and a much milder flavour.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Classical Cultivation of Patna Rice

Rice has been cultivated in the Gangetic plains of India for millennia. The cultivation of rice here is not just any other grain cultivation, but it's a process that has moulded the culture of the people like no other. There are songs specific for each activity - ropnigeet, katnigeet; there is merriment, there are festivals, in fact it would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole life of people revolves around the cultivation of rice.

The process of cultivation of rice starts around the first week of June when the harsh Indian summer is at its peak. The last feasting of the lagan (marriage season) is over and the summer has left everyone exhausted. The seasonal high points of summer, the mangoes, the lichees, and the kharbujas and tarbujas have all come and gone. Even as the sun is still mercilessly beating down on the Gangetic plains and heat waves have parched the normally humid landscape totally dry, sucking out the last drops of water from every crevice, the cultivator starts to bring out his implements - his plough, chaas, and other implements. Taking stomach full of traditional drinks made from ground gram (sattu) and occasionally saunf, and keeping full onion in his pocket, he has to leave the cool environs of his thatched hut and start venturing into the unforgiving hot and dry weather. Functional literacy, handed through word of mouth over generations has taught him how to survive the extreme weather with minimum of appurtenances.


He takes his implements to the village artisans - the blacksmith and the carpenter - to make them ready for the busy season ahead. He knows that once the rains fall, there would be no time to tend to his implements. It is also the time to spread the cow-dung, which was allowed to rot in ditches for the whole year. Unlike the other fertiliser, this manure has to be spread on his best field, as he knows that there is no manure better than this organic manure for his tender seedlings.

Spreading the seedlings

The first drops of rain fall around mid June heralding the monsoon. The first rain is normally accompanied with strong cool winds and sometime also hailstorm. As the first drops of water quench the thirst of the parched earth, it oozes an intoxicating earthy (saundha) smell that can be found in only this part of the world. The earth acquires a greenish hue - it is as if the no nonsense tomboy has turned all feminine grace on getting married.

Now there is no time to loose and the cultivator has to quickly plough the Beehan Kiyaris (Seedling fields) where the manure has already been spread. In less than a week, those fields have to be ploughed, seeds spread and flattened again for the seed to start germinating in the hot and humid soil just under the surface.

Ploughing the Land

Once the seedlings spread, all the agricultural fields in the village good enough for rice cultivation have to be ploughed. It would be barely six weeks when the seedlings would be ready for transplantation and the ploughing has to be accomplished in this period. By this time, the monsoon is in full flow and the urgency of the first few days has given way to the humdrum of the busy agricultural season. There are still not enough hours to do all that needs to be done, but life assumes a routine.


The humdrum of ploughing follows the extreme physical activity of the transplantation phase. Transplantation is a very intricate process that has to be accomplished very quickly. If the seedlings are allowed to get over-ripe before being transplanted, it would be very harmful for the quality for the rice. No cultivator has the resources to accomplish this alone and all of them have to depend on others to achieve this. This is the time when old rivalries and petty differences have to be forgotten as this once in a year opportunity cannot be missed. All able bodied men and women are out in the field. Elderly help with household chores like cooking and children help by transporting the meals to the field as there is no time to loose in commuting between the field and the house. Men may not rest for days and children may bunk school. Even the teachers may leave the school to give a helping hand during this crucial phase.

There is some respite from hard physical labour once the transplantation is done, but no time to be lax. Now is the time to tend the field and protect it from all enemies, both natural and human. Machan may be put in the field to keep a watchful eye day and night. The male members may not have a chance to come home for weeks. There has to be just enough water in the field for the rice to grow; if you don't drain the excess water, it would become flooded and destroy the crop. If water is less, the paddy may start to die.

The same village neighbour who had helped him in the crucial transplantation phase may now not hesitate to leave his cattle loose for grazing in an unattended field. If the neighbour had not helped when all were watching, the animosity would have come out in the open; in the cover of darkness, one can always settle a few scores without too much damage to one's reputation. In any case, the petty differences, probably festering for generations, were merely papered over, not by any means settled.

Mid season Break and the festivals

Around October, the paddy has grown to waist height and needs less tending. Monsoon has somewhat slackened and there is festivities everywhere, for now is the festival (puja) season. : Dushshra, Divali and Chath are celebrated in this period. The all round greenery adds to the festivities. Other than keeping a watchful eye to keep the cattle and the thief away, which brothers and friendly neighbours can take turns to do, it is a time of comparative physical rest but mental alertness.


Harvesting starts as soon as the last araghya to the Sun god has been given. This is another period of intense physical activity when the paddy has to be harvested and transported to the Kharihaan for processing. When we see Indian software professionals slogging during crucial phases of a project like go live or testing, and barely managing to keep office timings during "normal" office days, one cannot help thinking if they have got it in their genes from their agriculturist forebears who had to work seasonally like this. It is this perhaps which helps him in his direct march from the agricultural age to the information age, bypassing the evolution of the industrial age and its clockwork precision.


As the temperature starts to dip with the onset of the winter, the processing of the grain starts in the Kharihaan. After the first offering to the gods - the gram devi (village deity), the fruits of the labour is ready to savour. Certain varieties of rice may be boiled with the husk to prepare the parboiled rice. After this, the rice husk is removed in the wooden "dheki", a process greatly enjoyed by the ladies of the house and accompanied with much merriment.

Rice has always been a symbol of plenty in Hindu tradition. According to the custom, married women in India are honoured and wished a life of plenty by presenting them with a handful of rice, turmeric and grass saplings (Khoincha) on all festive occasions. The throwing of rice is associated with all pious Hindu rituals include weddings.

Patna Rice, the king of all rice, comes to you from the intricate handcrafted process described above, perfected over generations.

FAQ's on Patna rice.

What is Patna rice?

Patna rice is a variety of long grain rice originally grown in Patna (Bihar State), India where it has been used as a staple food for thousands of years. Patna rice is known for its elongated kernel with grain length greater than 6mm and mild earthy aroma.

This mildly flavored rice comes from the Gangetic plains of Bihar state in India. It has a robust, long and narrow, opaque grain that keeps its shape well after being cooked. Patna rice is one of the premium qualities of rice available in UK and USA and is the highly valued for its unique taste and mild aroma.

How does one classify rice?

Rice can be classified based on various factors like length, color, region, quality, texture etc. A brief description is given below;

Length: One of the most common methods of classifying rice is by length. The United States is the only country that uses three sizes - short, medium, and long-grain - for classifying the length of rice grains.

Color: Rice can also be classified by color: brown or white. Brown rice consists of the entire kernel minus the hull, while white rice is the result of processing to completely remove the bran layers. White rice is often enriched with nutrients (especially in Western nations), such as iron, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, to help restore some of the lost nutritional value.

Region: Rice may be grouped or classified according to the area or country in which the rice is cultivated or used. Although many countries export rice to other areas of the world, the majority of rice is used in the area where it is grown. This is especially true in Asia where rice is such an important part of the diet. In the United States, over half of the rice crop is exported.

Quality: The quality of Rice is classified by the quality of the grains, usually according to the quantity of broken grains that are included per standard measure.

Top Quality Rice: The quantity of broken grains is no more than 5 percent of the total. Standard Rice: A maximum of 15 percent broken grains.
Household Rice: There are two groups under the household category - a maximum of 25 percent broken grains and a maximum of 40 percent broken grains.
Broken Rice: a minimum of 40 percent of the rice contains broken grains.

Texture: The texture of rice after cooking may range from very sticky and soft to very firm and fluffy. Sticky rice is often referred to as glutinous rice. In spite of the name, glutinous rice contains no gluten, but some varieties have gluten-like properties.

What is the difference between Patna rice, Basmati rice and Carolina rice?

Basmati Rice is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. When cooked,
the grain rice doubles, partially splits lengthwise, and is curved. Basmati rice is the least glutinous of all rice; once cooked, the grains remain separate.

Patna rice is a close relative to basmati, but is mildly aromatic. It is grown in the gangetic plains of Bihar. It is believed that Patna rice was the first type of rice cultivated
in the USA . The seeds of Patna rice were taken to America, cultivated in Carolina and exported to Britain before the American civil war, and acquired the name Carolina rice. Thus the term Carolina rice is also sometimes used to denote this variety of rice.

What are some of the premium long grained rice preferred in the USA?

Basmati Rice: Long-grain rice that is approximately four times longer than it is wide. Basmati is one of the most popular long-grain rice varieties due to its fragrance, flavor, and texture. Much of the basmati rice is cultivated in India and Pakistan. The rice is fluffy and dry and the grains do not stick together after it is cooked.

Patna rice aka Carolina rice: A brand name for long-grain rice that is approximately four times longer than it is wide. It is one of the most popular varieties in the USA and was first cultivated in Carolinas during the 17th Century. It is now cultivated mostly in Arkansas, Texas, and California. Patna rice is fluffy and dry when cooked and the grains do not stick together. Steaming and baking are excellent preparation methods for Patna rice, which can be used in pilafs, salads, and a variety of cooked dishes. Patna rice is also known as Carolina rice and it is available in many large food stores.

Himalayan red rice: A long-grain variety of rice with red bran that is cultivated in Nepal. Himalayan red rice has a rich, nutty flavor and a deep red color when cooked. Himalayan red rice has a firm texture that makes it a good choice for salads and various pilaf recipes.

Indian red rice: A long-grain un milled variety of rice with red bran that is cultivated in India. Red rice has a nutty flavor and is reddish-tan in color.

Kasmati rice: Long-grain variety of aromatic rice developed in the USA. that is considered to be similar to Basmati in taste and texture. It is generally used for Indian and Middle-Eastern food dishes.

Texmati rice: A variety of Della rice, which is a cross between basmati and other long-grain rice varieties grown primarily in the southern United States. When cooked it
expands widthwise, but maintains the same length. It is not as aromatic as basmati rice, but is more flavorful and aromatic than other long-grain rice from the U.S. It is fluffy dry rice that does not stick together after it is cooked.

What is the USP of Patna Rice?

Apart from the inherent characteristics, Patna rice is grown in the Patna region, which has produced premium quality rice for eons. The special characteristic of soil in the Ganges plain, along with the weather conditions and the traditional method of cultivation result in the uniqueness of Patna rice.

We plan to market rice from farms using organic (traditional) method of cultivation. In addition, the product is hand picked and almost all the steps taken from the planting to packaging is done manually. Patna rice is old, internationally renowned, aromatic, long grain rice which evolved to its present form in the climatic richness of gangetic plains of Patna in the state of Bihar, India.

How is it going to help the farmers in Bihar? Which section of farmers would benefit from it? What are the criteria for choosing the target group of farmers?

The revenue that is generated will be primarily spent on development of farming infrastructure, establishing local nodal export cells, bringing more product from Bihar on the export list and research and development. It will help us in promoting Brand Bihar as a land of agro-based opportunities. We will be able to offer a basket of agro based products which will include world famous Rice, Maldah mango, Shahi litchee, Malbhog banana, etc. This will also help us in reviving the agro-based industries in Bihar which will have multiplier effect on the overall economy of the state.

It will also generate positive publicity and sustained media attention, investor’s attention and International attention. All these will lead to an improved investment in the agricultural sector of Bihar which could be economically, socially, and politically rewarding for one and all.

The regions best suited for its farming would be the rice belt of Bihar i.e. districts of Patna, Ara, Buxar, Rohtas, Bhabhua, Mohania and Jehanabad.

Is quantity the criteria for export or is it quality?

Quality is the main criteria. We want to create a niche market for genuine premium Patna rice, grown organically in the region of its origin. We want to tap the niche market that currently exists for this product.

What do you envision happening two years from now?

We have a good case for global recognition for Patna rice. We will be very close to getting it two years from now. In the meantime we will be streamlining the procurement, packaging, quality control and export components of the program. Apart from the things related to Patna Rice, our efforts will also help in generating positive publicity for Bihar on both national and international front. This will helping projecting Bihar as an agricultural hub and will generate interest among investors.

Patna Rice connection of J. W. Fiske & Co.

The firm of J. W. Fiske and Company was one of the preeminent makers and retailers of ornamental iron and zinc objects in New York City in the second half of the nineteenth century, producing a wide range of garden fountains, statues, urns, and furniture. And the amazing thing is that Mr. Fiske has a PATNA RICE connection.

During one of his travels abroad on business, he is said to have purchased 13 tonnes of PATNA RICE from India.

"Another account records the purchase of thirteen tons of Patna rice from India..."