Mamut rice, also known as beras mamut or padi mamut locally, originates from the traditional rice fields in Bijat in Batang Lupar, in the region of Sarawak on the northern part of the island of Borneo. In Batang Lupar, farmers grow many varieties of rice for their own consumption and for sale. The land in the area has simple basic infrastructure to prevent flood and salt water intrusion, but irrigation infrastructure is not available and so farmers grow rice once a year during the wet season (around September to March).
Beras mamut is a traditional, tall variety that is inherently efficient at tapping the soil nutrients for growth. The plant of this variety measures about 140-143 cm and has an erect plant type. It 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 the harvest. Farmers transplant 30-35 day old seedlings by hand, and beras mamut matures 125 days after transplanting. The panicle is long, measuring about 29.5 cm. The grains of this variety have a purplish pericarp (outer seed coat) which leaves a light purple color on the endosperm (starchy part) when milled. It is sold as semi-polished rice and it cooks to a soft and fluffy texture. Beras or padi mamut is a traditional rice variety that is naturally farmed with minimal chemical inputs because of its adaptability to the soils and clean natural environment.
Known for its aroma and light purple color, beras mamut is prized as a specialty rice that is served at special occasions and festivals. It has distinctive taste, color and reputation among the local people in Sarawak. In the mid-2010s, about 150 tons a year were harvested annually. This harvest was grown in part for farmers’ personal consumption, with excess amounts being sold at local farmers’ markets. Beras mamut is grown by smallholder farmers and the entire production process is done manually. The majority of these rice farmers are getting older, and if the younger generations are not interested in rice farming this variety may disappear.