Biris Rice

Ark of taste
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Biris Rice

Beras (rice) biris or padi biris is a variety that originates from the rice farms of Simunjan in the Kota Samarahan Division of Sarawak, in northern Borneo. It is a fragrant, traditional rice variety also known as beras wangi Simunjan because of its strong aroma. The rice farms in Simunjan mainly depend on rainwater for cultivation, as irrigation facilities are not available. Farmers do not use much chemical fertilizer, as beras biris is a traditional tall variety that is not very responsive to chemical fertilizer. Traditional tall varieties are inherently more efficient in extracting soil nutrients for growth.  

The beras biris plant is tall, measuring about 160 cm and has an erect plant type. The stems are thick and strong. The panicle is long measuring between 30-31 cm. This variety matures in 163-167 days from seed to harvest. Some farmers age their paddy for about 6-10 months before milling. The process of aging improves the milling quality of the rice and also changes the chemical properties of the starch. The milled rice of this preferred variety is translucent and glossy.  

Beras biris is prized as a specialty rice that is served at special festivals. It has been accorded a Geographical Indication status for its distinctive taste and reputation as a local variety. It is estimated that about 50 tons are are grown annually. Many farmers grow the varitety mainly for personal use, but sell the excess on the local market, where it can be found in small quantities. Beras biris or padi biris is grown by smallholder farmers and the entire process is done manually. Majority of these rice farmers are elderly, and they if the younger generations are not interested in rice farming this variety may disappear.

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Indigenous community:Iban, Malay