GUWAHATI: The cherished Chokuwa rice, affectionately known as “magic rice” of Assam, has recently secured the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag. This recognition highlights the rice’s exceptional qualities and historical heritage, making it a true culinary gem of the region.
The journey towards obtaining the GI tag for Chokuwa rice began in 2016 when an organisation – Seuj Satirth of Dimow from Sivsagar – filed the application. The GI Registry Journal of 24 October 2019 marked a significant moment by listing the semi-glutinous winter rice variety under the 124th Geographical Indications (GI) Registry. Beyond its gastronomic value, Chokuwa rice holds deep significance in social and religious ceremonies, enhancing its cultural importance.
The GI Journal described the rice as a “unique gift of nature”, distinguishing it as a special class of semi-glutinous winter rice cultivated exclusively in Assam. Unlike any other rice variety worldwide, Chokuwa rice stands out due to its distinct characteristics. With low amylase content (12-17%) in the grains, Chokuwa rice stands tall as a long-duration variety with unique plant and grain features. What sets it apart is its ability to turn soft upon soaking in regular water, an attribute highly valued in culinary preparations.
Highlighting its exclusivity, the journal noted, “Highly valued delicacies are prepared from Chokuwa rice,” emphasizing its special role in traditional Assamese cuisine.
This isn’t Assam’s first tryst with the coveted Geographical Indication tag. Muga silk achieved this distinction in 2007, followed by the recognition of pungent Karbi Anglong ginger and succulent Tezpur litchi in 2015.
The Geographical Indication (GI) tag signifies the origin-based uniqueness of products and their reputation tied to their geographical heritage. Widely used for products ranging from agricultural produce to handicrafts, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, safeguards and promotes products with specific regional roots.
With a validity of 10 years, this recognition not only preserves the heritage but also inspires a continued celebration of Assam’s gastronomic traditions.