Boka saul — an indigenous variety of rice produced exclusively in lower regions of Assam — is the latest product from Assam to get the Geographical Indications tag, commonly called the GI tag. First sown by June end, this special variety of Assamese rice is often referred to as ‘magic rice’. Why? Well, it requires no cooking, unlike every other variety of rice. Yes! Magic rice is a one-of-its-kind ‘zero fuel’ variety of rice.
This unique variety of Assamese rice is very simple, and equally budget-friendly, to “cook”. All one needs to do is soak the rice in cold water for about an hour to swell and Voila! You are all set to enjoy Assam’s delicious ‘magic rice’. Locals like it best with milk, jaggery and banana.
What is GI tag?
The Geographical Indication of Goods —under the Intellectual Property of India (IPI) — assigns GI tags to quality-assured and distinct goods, thus giving these very goods an official name and sign that corresponds to their specific geographical location or origin. The first product to be GI tagged in India was Darjeeling tea.
India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), first enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods Act in 1999.
Why is the GI tag of such importance to Boka saul?
This tag is expected to help commercialise this special variety of ‘magic rice’ and bolster its reach beyond the confines of Assam. Due to its special ‘zero fuel’ temperament, it can be of huge service to soldiers in high-frontier areas or can even suffice as disaster management ration. In the 17th century, Boka saul was consumed by the Ahom soldiers while they were fighting against the vast Mughal army.
Boka saul is yet another addition in the long list of products, from all over India, that have been assigned the GI tag. Be it Goa’s Feni, Mizoram’s Chilli, Sikkim’s large cardamom or Jammu and Kashmir’s Pashmina shawl, each GI product has received considerable attention and with it a substantial consignment of finances, that has helped each product in a million ways.
In 2016, Baishya’s Lotus Progressive Centre, a Nalbari-based NGO, first applied for the concerned patent to get Boka saul GI tagged.