KATHMANDU, July 11: Marsi, a little-known rice variety, is suddenly hogging the limelight, causing its demand to soar significantly.
This rice variety is cultivated in high-hilly region of the country, above 2,900 meters of elevation, like Jumla. It is brown in color and generally considered more fulfilling than normal rice and is considered a better alternative for diabetic patients.
Although considered endangered, this variety of rice gained media spotlight after a photograph surfaced in media depicting then CPN-UML Chairperson Khadga Prasad Oli and the then UCPN (Maoist) Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal enjoying Marsi rice for lunch together with a businessman. The photograph has gone viral in social media after the Oli-led government advocated licensing more private medical colleges.
Talking to Republica, Saurav Dhakal of GreenGrowth, which sells organic edibles online, said that demand for Marsi rice has seen a significant rise in recent days. “Our received more than 100 new subscriptions in past two weeks after we announced Marsi rice was available for delivery,” he said, adding, “I believe many are placing order just to taste this variety. I do not see the demand rising in the long-term also because of the high price tag.”
According to Dhakal, Marsi rice is usually cultivate at a small section of their farm where other crops are also cultivated. “Farmers in high-hills have been cultivating this variety since centuries. Even though improved rice varieties are now available, they are cultivating this variety even in a small patch of their farm to preserve this variety,” he added.
The price of Marsi rice ranges from Rs 225 to Rs 260 in Kathmandu Valley.
Yubaraj Dahal, manager of Sinja Valley Group which has been producing Marsi rice in Jumla, also said that demand for this variety has increased significantly in recent weeks. “The demand is so overwhelming that we are finding it difficult to meet it,” he said, adding that the photograph of prominent leaders eating Marsi rice has worked wonders. “Earlier, this variety was known to only a few people. Suddenly, everyone wants to taste Marsi. We have not been able to meet the demand.”
He, added, that he believes that demand for this variety will grow steadily as people are now aware of its health benefits. “The present demand does not seem a short-term phenomenon,” he added.