Krayan Black Adan Rice

Ark of taste
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Krayan Black Adan Rice

Beras Adan Krayan Hitam

Adan rice (Oryza sativa) is a local rice variety cultivated by the indigenous peoples in the Krayan Highlands at 760 – 1200 m in altitude in the heart of Borneo according to traditional agricultural practices. It comes in three different varieties: white, red, and black. This rice is famous for its fine and small grain with a unique texture. The pristine and unpolluted environment where the black rice is grown is said to be a factor that contributes to its pleasant fragrance and excellent sweeter taste. Traditionally, local farmers have made no use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the cultivation of black rice. The black adan variety emanates a sweet fragrance when cooking and has a very pleasant taste. It is rich in minerals (iron, calcium, and phosphorus) and is nutritionally important because of its high protein content and relatively low fat and carbohydrate content compared to the white variety (which is already recognized with a geographical indication in Indonesia). Most families in the area cultivate 1 to 5 hectares of rice fields following traditional methods, which means the cultivation is rather labor intensive. Buffaloes are not used for plowing, but are let loose into the rice fields after harvest to trample the earth, eat the weeds and the stubble of the rice plants, and fertilize the soil in the process so that the rice fields are ready for the next planting season. Nurseries with the rice seedlings are prepared in July and shortly after planted. Harvest season begins in late December through February. Adan rice takes 5-6 months to mature and only one crop is planted per year.   This type of traditional agricultural cycle is very dependent on the integration of cultivation and water buffaloes rearing for productivity and sustainability. The cool and clear water from the forested mountains and hills surrounding the rice fields irrigates the area by means of bamboo pipes or canals dug into the soil. The clean water is a very important aspect of the unique taste of the black adan rice. The farmers harvest the rice by using traditional sickles made of bamboo (arit or aling) to cut the top part of the stems. The black variety is not a high-yielding variety and is not used as primary staple rice in the present diet of local communities. Historically, it was not used in daily meals unless mixed with white rice. However it is still cooked and served to guests or eaten for its nutritional properties, especially for children and the elderly. The black variety is often served as soft rice in the traditional way of the Highlands (luba laya) and wrapped in banana, pandan, or other broad leaves in small packages.   Over the last 10-20 years, the local taste preference has shifted towards the white variety of rice, but growing interest of retailers in Jakarta has triggered local farmers to plant more of the black variety. Black rice, which is not glutinous, is relatively unknown to many customers and people in Indonesia except for a few traditional varieties cultivated on other islands. Today, about 5 tons of this variety are grown per year, sold commercially in Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia and also used for family consumption. The major threat to the disappearance of the black variety of Krayan adan rice would be the change in traditional land use in the Highlands to adopt the cultivation of other products, the abandonment of the agricultural rice tradition among the younger generations and the switch from traditional varieties to high-yielding rice varieties with the introduction of a two-harvest-a-year system, and intensive cultivation systems with chemical inputs. This type of traditional agricultural cycle is very dependent on the integration of rice cultivation and water buffaloes rearing for productivity and sustainability. If the number of buffaloes decreases in the future or land becomes increasingly scarce because of development plans, the traditional system gets disrupted and the ecological balance disturbed. With changing lifestyles and increasing preference for white rice, the black variety had almost disappeared and only few farmers were cultivating it in small quantity (and thus maintained the seeds). The cultivation has picked up over the last few years especially in connection with regard to growing market interest. However, transportation is an issue for commercial sales, as the Krayan Highlands are not connected by road to the lowlands.

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East Kalimantan

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Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Lundayeh, Kelabit and Sa’ban