The indigenous boka chaul, which was recently given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, is expected to make its American debut soon with a Los Angeles-based non-resident Indian (NRI) businessman showing interest in promoting the rice in the US. Nalbari-based Lotus Progressive Centre (LPC), a local NGO involved in the promotion and preservation of the native variety of rice across 45 villages, in and around Nalbari district, informed that Nitin Patel, a Gujarati NRI, had contacted them about promoting the rice in the US.
The NRI businessman, who deals in rice in the US, contacted the NGO after getting the news that boka chaul got the GI tag. He said he was keen to promote the rice in the US and would, as a pilot initiative, buy five to six kilos to promote it in restaurants owned by his friends. The rice will be sent soon. Boka chaul requires careful processing while farming. If anything goes wrong, it can affect the quality of the rice. Patel said that if the pilot promotion is successful, then he would order in bulk.
According to LPC, Nalbari has around 70,000 hectares of agricultural land of which 3,500 hectares (five per cent) is solely dedicated to the cultivation of boka chaul. Boka chaul is a winter rice or sali which is sown in the third and fourth week of June. It is mostly cultivated in Nalbari, Barpeta, Goalpara, Baksa, Kamrup, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Darrang districts in lower Assam.