The indigenous Boka Chaul (Oryza sativa) or Assamese soft-rice is the latest natural produce from Assam to be registered with the Geographical Indications (GI) tag. This is the only product after muga silk, Joha rice and Tezpur litchi to be registered under GI.
Boka Chaul is mostly cultivated in Nalbari, Barpeta, Goalpara, Baksa, Kamrup, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Darrang districts of lower Assam. It is a winter rice or sali, which is sown from the third and fourth week of June. This native variety of rice is unique because it requires no fuel to cook and can be eaten by just soaking it in water at room temperature. It is known for its nutrition and is consumed during the summer because of its cooling effect.
Nalbari-based Lotus Progressive Centre (LPC), a local NGO involved in the promotion and preservation of the native variety of rice in and around the district, and Centre for Environment Education (CEE) were the applicants for the GI registry of the Boka Chaul. They had applied for the GI tag in 2016.
This variety of rice is mostly used as part of the traditional cuisine and is consumed with curd, jaggery, milk, sugar or other items. In September 2017, Boka Chaul entered the examination stage where the applicants were asked to furnish scientific details pertaining to the rice’s unique quality and the geo-climatic factors responsible for its characteristics.