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Calendar 2017

Traditional Rice of Sri Lanka

 

 

In Sri Lanka rice has been grown as far back as 800 B. C. and it is further supported by massive irrigation structures since 390 B. C. During this period Sri Lanka was known as the granary of the East and existence of about 2000 indigenous rice varieties has been reported. Beginning of the 20th century about 567 traditional rice varieties had been documented. Those varieties had been adapted to various rice growing ecologies in high elevation and low land rice farming systems of the country throughnatural evolution and unintentional selection by our ancestors. As the traditional varieties were in mixtures due to negligence of the foreign rulers, purification process was adopted by the scientists of the Department of Agriculture in 1920s’ and purelines were recommended for cultivation and present traditional varieties are mainlythe outcome of those pure lines. Those varieties had the sufficient diversity to fit into the diverse rice growing environments and the consumer preferences. Therefore, traditional rice varieties are possessing specific adaptability rather than general adaptability.

Sri Lanka Telecom is passionately committed to “preserving heritage for tomorrow”, for the benefit of the future generations to ensure long term sustainability of the country’s rich natural and cultural heritage. The SLT 2017 calendar is produced under the sub-theme “Traditional Rice of Sri Lanka” and aims to raise awareness among the general public about the importance of preserving this rich heritage for the benefit of the future generations.

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සුදු හීනටි - Sudu Heeneti

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

This variety of rice is named Sudu Heeneti because of the whitish-straw colour of its paddy.It is traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka and produces a bold red grain.The culm develops to about 135cm in height. This crop can be harvested within 4 months from seeding. The potential yield is about 60 to 80 bushels per acre. Currently Sudu Heenati is widely cultivated in all parts of Sri Lanka. It is reported to perform well as an organic crop.Traditionally it is believed that Sudu Heeneti helps enhance the human immune system, and is used as a remedy for constipation. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, cholesterol and oxidative stress. It is also a rich source of vitamin E and naturally occurring antioxidants. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 


දහනල - Dahanala

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Dahanala is a long-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The culm is about 120cm in height. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding.The number of tillers per plant is 4 to 5, which is low compared to other traditional rice varieties. The yield is also low at 30 to 35 bushels per acre. Dahanala is widely cultivated in the wet zone. It is susceptible to rice blast disease. However, it is resistant to the seedling pest called Trips.Traditionally Dahana rice is used in preparing porridge. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of diabetes and oxidative stress. Further, it is a rich source of protein and iron.

 


දික් වී - Dik Wee

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

TDik Wee is a medium-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka.The plant develops to a maximum height of 150cm. This crop can be harvested within 4 to 4½ months from seeding. At the stage of ripening the plant stem becomes light bluish in color. The number of tillers per plant is 10 to 12, which is very high compared to other traditional rice varieties. It is resistant to lodging and has a good yield of 80 to 85 bushels per acre and commands good commercial value. It is a popular variety cultivated in the wet zone.Research indicates the presence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, cholesterol and oxidative stress. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 


ගොඩ හීනටි - Goda Heeneti

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Godaheeneti is a popular medium-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka, which belongs to the heeneti type.The plant develops to a maximum height of 160cm. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding. The Goda Heeneti grain is brownish red in colour, its lemma and palea are brown. The potential yield is about 60 to 65 bushels per acre. Traditionally Goda Heeneti was a popular crop which could be seen cultivated at high elevations. Presently it is cultivated in all parts of the country.Traditionally it is believed that Goda Heeneti helps enhance the human immune system. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, cholesterol and oxidative stress. Further, it is rich in proteins, vitamin E and naturally occurring antioxidants. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 


ගෝනබරැ - Gonabaru

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Gonabaru is a popular medium-grain rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The plant develops to a maximum height of 140cm. This crop can be harvested within 5 months from seeding.The number of tillers per plant is 3 to 5, which is low compared to other traditional rice varieties. The potential yield is fairly good compared to similar varieties and varies from about 50 to 60 bushels per acre. It is cultivated in both the dry and wet zone.Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of diabetes and oxidative stress. Further, it’s a good source of zinc. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 

 


කළු හීනටි - Kalu Heeneti

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

This variety of rice is named Kalu Heeneti because of the color of its lemma and palea which turn blackish at maturity. It is traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka and produces a red medium sized grain.The plant develops to a maximum height of 120cm. This crop can be arvested within 3½ months from seeding. It bares 5 to 8 tillers per plant and the potential yield is about 30 to 50 bushels per acre. This crop performs well in the dry zone.Traditionally Kalu Heenati is used as a treatment for snake bite. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol and hepatitis. Further, it is a rich source of iron & zinc. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.


මා වී - Ma Wee

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Ma Wee is a red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The grain varies in size and shape from short and round varieties to long medium sized varieties. It is one of the tallest rice plants cultivated and develops to a maximum height of 350cm. This crop can be harvested within 5 to 6 months from seeding. It bares 15 to 20 tillers per plant and yields about 65 to 70 bushels per acre. Ma Wee is a photoperiod sensitive plant cultivated during the Maha season. It is widely cultivated in flood prone areas in the low country wet zone and intermediate zone. Traditionally it is believed that Ma Wee contains medicinal properties. It is used in the treatment of obesity, diabetes, tuberculosis and as an effective remedy for purging. Scientific studies have found evidence of high levels of protein and antioxidants. Further, it is a good source of iron and zinc.


මඩතවාලු - Madathawalu

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Madathawalu is a very popular short-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka.The plant develops to a maximum height of 130cm. This crop can be harvested within 4 months from seeding. Madathawalu bears 20 to 30 tillers per plant and is considered as one of the highest yielding traditional rice varieties in Sri Lanka. The potential yield is about 110 bushels per acre and is currently cultivated in all parts of Sri Lanka. This variety is reported to perform well as an organic crop.Traditionally it is believed to enhance the human immune system and is used in treating diabetes. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of diabetes and oxidative stress. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.


මසුරන් - Masuran

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Masuran is a popular medium-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The plant develops to a maximum height of 120cm and is resistant to lodging. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding during the Yala season and within 4½ months in the Maha season.The potential yield is about 80 bushels per acre. This plant is resistant to the rice blast disease and plays an important role in weed control as its leaves tend to turn downwards during maturity. Masuran is widely cultivated in the wet zone.Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of inflammation, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, cholesterol and oxidative stress. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 

 


පච්චපපෙරැමාල් - Pachchaperumal

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Pachchaperumal is a very popular medium-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka.The plant develops to a maximum height of 120cm. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding. At the stage of ripening the plant stem becomes light bluish in color. The potential yield is about 70 to 80 bushels per acre. The plant is highly susceptible to insect attack. Pachchaperumal is currently cultivated all parts of the country.Traditionally it is known to be used in treating diabetes. Value of this treatment is corroborated through scientific evidence. It is also commonly believed that consuming this rice helps cool the body and is beneficial for the treatment of wounds. Further, it is a rich source of proteins, and naturally occurring antioxidants. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 

 


ෙපාක්කාලි - Pokkali

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Pokkali is a popular red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The culm of plant is about 130cm in height and bears about 10 tillers per plant. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding. It is tolerant to the presence of salinity in the soil. Pokkali is used as the parent in rice varietal improvement.The potential yield is about 60 to 80 bushels per acre. Currently it is cultivated along the South Western costal belt and is a staple crop in the Hambantota and Puttalam districts where soil salinity levels are high. Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of oxidative stress. Findings also indicate its ability to inhibit certain harmful bacteria. It is also found to be rich in proteins. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 


රත් සුවදැල් - Rath Suwandal

Family: Poaceae

Species: Oryza sativa L.

Sub Species: indica

Rathsuwandal is a popular medium-grain red rice variety traditionally cultivated in Sri Lanka. The plant develops to a maximum height of 120cm. This crop can be harvested within 3½ months from seeding. The number of tillers per plant is 4 to 6 and relatively low. The potential yield is about 45 to 60 bushels per acre. It is resistant to the rice blast disease. Rathsuwandal is currently cultivated in both the dry and wet zone.Scientific studies have found evidence of medicinal properties useful for the treatment of diabetes and oxidative stress. Consumption with the bran is important in obtaining such valuable nutritional and medicinal properties.

 

 


Most of the varieties have long maturity durationof 4-6 months from seeding to harvesting. Very few varieties were with 2½ to 3½ months maturity duration. The most traditional rice varieties are red and only few are white in pericarp color. Some traditional varieties are highly photoperiod sensitive and they flower only when they are exposed to short days in themonth of December so that they can be grown only during maha season in the country. The traditional plant architecture is very primitive having tall and weak culms which tend to lodge during cultivation. The harvest index of traditional varieties is less than 0.3 indicating that the biomass content is greater than the amount of grains produced in a plant leading to poor yield. The specific adaptability, resistance to abiotic stresses and single resistance or susceptibility nature for some major pestsand diseasesare reported in traditional varieties.The nutritional and medicinal properties of these varieties are claimed in the Sri Lankan traditional knowledge. Such properties are diverse and those include ability to improve the immune system, body strength and sexual strength, facilitate easy digestion, excretion and reducing toxins in the body, used for treating fever, diabetes, constipation, urinary problems, obesity, tuberculosis, haematemesis (vomiting of blood) and ability to treat people intoxicated with snake venom. Research conducted in recent years has scientifically validated some of these traditional claims and have clearly shown that Sri Lankan traditional rice, especially red rices possess beneficial medicinal properties in inflammation, diabetes, cancer, neurological diseases, cholesterol and oxidative stress. Thus, use and application of these valuable traditional or indigenous rice genetic resources in the country may effectively improve the nutritional and health status of people in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the huge diversity exists in traditional rice varieties demands their conservation and utilization for further improvement to fulfill the future rice requirement and may also provide solutions for the agricultural and environmental problems in the country as well as in the world. Therefore let’s preserve our treasure of naturally evolved traditional rice varieties to be used for future food and environment security

 

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