Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka

Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka

Rice is the staple food of Sri Lanka and many other countries. Over 2000 different kinds of traditional rice varieties are being cultivated in Sri Lanka. Almost all those traditional rice varieties have been organically grown under natural conditions without the application of agro chemicals and inorganic fertilizers. Therefore the traditional rice cultivation is 100% environmental friendly as sustainable food production methods are been practiced by Sri Lankan traditional farmers.

Traditional rice varieties have been cultivated from ancient time. King Devanam Piyatissaruled the country in 370 BC, constructed many water tanks for paddy cultivation. Later King Wasahabha,King Dhathusena, King Prakkramabahu, King Mahasen and many other kings who ruled the country had given their priority to build big tanks to reserve water specially for paddy cultivation.

People believe that our traditional varieties have higher medicinal and nutritional values. Sr​​i Lankan traditional doctors have used many of these traditional rice varieties such as Kalu Heenati, Sudu Heenati, Maa Wee for the preparing of herbal medicines.

Some of our traditional rice varieties have an aroma (good smell) and higher nutritional value. They have a high content of dietary fibre which reduces illnesses such as constipation and because of this they have slow release of sugar (low glycaemic index). This feature is favourable for diabetic patients to maintain a low blood sugar level after taking meals. Most important characteristic of the Sri Lankan traditional rice is that they are rich with antioxidants which help to reduce the risk of cancers. Though they have better qualities these native varieties are low in yield. During rice processing the most important part of the rice grain can be removed therefore it is advisable to consume whole grains rather than the polished grains.

Special characters of some traditional varieties.

01) Pachcha Perumal

Tall stem(120-130 cm) with high tillering ability (7-8) Small grain size(30 grams per 1000 grains) with red pericarp. Yield is around 2.5 mt/ha. Traditional doctors used this variety for medicinal purposes.

02) Kalu heenati

Moderately tall stem(111-115 cm) medium long grain size(24.1 grams per 1000 grains) with red pericarp. Yield is around 1.5 mt/ha. This variety is considered as a medicinal rice variety for Ayurvedic medicines.

03) Sudu heenati

Moderately tall stem(112-135 cm) medium long grain size(25 grams per 1000 grains) with red pericarp. Yield is around 2-2.5 mt/ha.

04) Rathu heenati

Moderately tall stem(95-115 cm) Small round grain size(17 grams per 1000 grains) with red pericarp. Yield is around 1.5 mt/ha.

05) Rath ell

Tall stem(130-140 cm) short bold grain size(22 grams per 1000 grains) with white pericarp. Yield is around 2 mt/ha.

06) Suwadel

Moderately tall stem (90-95 cm) medium long grain size(20-22 grams per 1000 grains) with white pericarp. Yield is around 2 mt/ha. This variety has good aroma when cooking.

According to recent research conducted by the ITI, it was found that rice varieties namely Kalubalawee,Pachchaperumal,Dahanala,Rathuheenati,Kattamanjal and Rathel having relatively high iron and protein levels and are of high nutritional value and good for anaemic conditions. These varieties can be recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers and also growing children.

Rice varieties such as Kalabala wee,Pachchaperumal,Rath Suwadel and Kaluheenati which possess high antioxidant levels are expected to have health promoting effects in reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as cancers.

Rice varieties such as Suwadel,Masuran,Dikwee and Gonabaru with low hydrolysis rate ( low glycemic index) are suitable for diabetic patients due to low digestion rate.


Different traditional varieties found in Sri Lanka:

Suwendel Kuruluthuda wee Madathawalu Sulai
Murungakayan Pachaperumal Sudu heenati Kaluheenati
Gonabaru Kuru Hondarawala Polon wee Guru podi wee
Kuru ma wee Pulli wee Alagu samba Guru wee
Pushpa raga Alagu samba Allei perumal Hapumal wee
Mada el Rasna vaalu Askarayal Hata da wee
Rata thawalu Hathi el Madei Karuppan Rath el
Heen deveradhari Maha maa wee Bala goda wee Manikkam
Masuran Bala murunga Heen rath el Rath karael
Bala samba Heen samba Molagu samba Rath Mada al
Bala thatu wee Heen suvuru wee Molligoda Rathu bala wee
Bata kiri el Hondarawalu Motakarupan Mudu kiri el
Beheth heenati Kahata el Murunga Rathu Sooduru
Kahata samba Niyan wee Kalu bala maa wee Kalu Bala Vee
Deveradhari Kalu handiran Sudu Maa Wee Goda wee
Kottayar Wanni dahanala

Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka

【LK9413A2E1: Traditional rice varieties of Sri Lanka. Text by Lakpura™. Images by Google, copyright(s) reserved by original authors.】