Kunju kunju - A Kerala red rice with a story

   Kunju kunju - is that even a name for rice?  What does it mean?

   When Illias, our Kuruva farmer, decided to put part of his land under a new Kerala red rice variety I was curious. And I got more curious when he said that the name of the red rice is Kunju kunju. Illias farms Kerala red rice organically in the Thrissur district of Kerala and is a committed and passionate organic farming activist.

   A farmer-developed Kerala red rice variety, the story of Kunju kunju began over 55 years back when farmer Abraham Varghese Of Thodupuzha, Kerala, found in his fields a paddy variety with a stout, short stem and small-grained red rice that also yielded well. A Kerala matta variety, this delicious red rice was welcomed by farmers and customers.

   As is the won't with seed saver and rice developer farmers, he grew it out season after season till the variety was perfected to his satisfaction. Fellow farmers who tried the paddy seed accepted it wholeheartedly. Recognitions came his way and the red rice variety was named Kunju kunju, which was the name by which Abraham Varghese was known at home and by friends.

   Abraham Varghese had the traditional variety Thavala Kannan, Sona masuri and green revolution variety IR8 growing in his fields. Kunju kunju red rice, he thinks, was the result of a natural cross between these three varieties growing in his fields.

   The variety became popular among farmers in Palakkad, Thrissur, and Thodupuzha, and other districts as it could withstand winds and heavy rains and didn't lodge. It is still grown extensively in Thodupuzha but in Palakkad other red and white varieties have taken its place.

   A controversy about the rice came up when in 2000-2002, a scientist in the Kerala Agriculture University laid claim to ownership of this farmer-bred variety and for it to be registered in her name. The issue lies unresolved, while Abraham Verghese's son is trying to get credit for the rice restored back to his late father.

   There are many such farmer developers who have the skill, patience, and know-how to develop such rice varieties. Our respect to rice developer farmers, seed saver farmers, and natural/organic farmers. What they do goes beyond organic farming, it is providing ecosystem services for the larger good and giving to the future.

  Introducing Kunju kunju rice :

  • Semi polished
  • Parboiled 
  • Small grained 
  • Burgundy colour 
  • Size between Kuruva & Uma
  • Soft to eat 
  • Quick to cook ( compared to other red rices) 

   Try this organic Kunju kunju red rice ....you will love it!

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