Bubuk Rice

Ark of taste
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Padi Bubuk

Beras bubuk or padi bubuk is a rice variety that originates from the rice farms in Stumbin, Entulang and Gran along the River Batang Lupar, in northern Borneo. The farmers here grow many varieties of rice for their own consumption and for sale. Their paddy land has simple basic drainage infrastructure to prevent tidal flooding and salt water intrusion. Irrigation infrastructure is not available, and so farmers grow a single annual crop of rice. They start sowing in early September and transplant in early October when the monsoon season sets in. These rice crops are totally dependent on rainwater for growth, and typically the rice is grown manually, from sowing to harvesting.  

Beras bubuk is a traditional rice variety with long roots that are able to tap soil nutrients and water for growth. The plants are medium in height, measuring about 120-125 cm tall and with an erect plant type. Beras bubuk grows well in both upland and rain fed conditions. The stems are strong and thick and do not bend easily unless there is a strong wind before harvest. Farmers transplant 30-35 day old seedlings by hand and it matures in 125 days after transplanting. The panicle is long, measuring between 26.5 cm. The seeds of beras bubuk have a light brown pericarp (outer seed coat) which leaves a translucent shine on the endosperm (starchy part) when milled. The paddy is milled and polished for sale as special premium rice. It has a soft texture, and the rice remains soft even once cooled after cooking. The cooked rice is not sticky, but it is slightly cohesive. Beras bubuk is special because of it is taste, aroma and glossy appearance.  

Beras bubuk is as specialty rice which is served at special occasions and festivals. It has distinctive taste and reputation among the local people in Sarawak. In the mid-2010s, about 100 tons were grown annually, some for personal use by farmers. There is high demand for this variety though, and it can be found for sale at farmers’ markets in the area. However, beras bubuk is grown by elderly, smallholder farmers and the entire process is done manually. If the younger generations are not interested in traditional rice farming, this variety may disappear

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Indigenous community:Iban, Malay