Jatiluwih Red Rice

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Cendana Jatiluwih

Jatiluwih red rice or cendana Jatiluwih (Oryza sativa var. Barak) is a red rice variety known for its fragrant scent and a flavor similar to legumes. The dark green stems of the plant grow to 130-160 cm tall, and end in boat-shaped, golden colored husks. The husks remove easily when dried, revealing translucent, reddish colored grains of rice. Jatiluwih red rice is planted from December to January for harvest in June and July. Only one crop of red rice is sown and harvested each year. This variety is naturally highly resistant to pests, with rats being the only real known predators. This rice is also very resistant to diseases.

Jatiluwih is a wild rice that is cultivated in a fertile location in the saddle between the three volcanic mountains of Mount Batukaru, Mount Sangyang, and Mount Poohen in the northern district of Tabanan, Bali. In this fertile valley convergence, one of the earliest subak (rice irrigation systems) of Bali was formed over a thousand years ago at the village of Umakayu, which now is called Jatiluwih. The farmers who are currently cultivating the organic red rice in Jatiluwih are descendants of the first subak rice farmers of the area. Jatiluwih has been documented as growing in area rice terraces since 1150 AD and before the Majapahit Era, well over five centuries ago. From these areas today, an average of 400 metric tons of processed rice are produced and sold each year, with another portion of the harvest being reserved for personal consumption.

Today, this rice variety is a risk of being lost due to decreasing populations in the villages where it is grown, and the transformation of productive farmlands to other commercial uses. Younger generations are less interested in continuing farming, especially following their forefathers’ traditional techniques. From the moment that the rice seeds are taken out of the granary to the final harvesting of the rice that is stored back in the original granary, farmers have to carry out at least 14 rituals, following a specific schedule. Each step of cultivation, from planting the first seeds, to transplanting the seedlings from bed to paddy, harvesting and post harvesting, and the process of storage calls for an act of religious attention. The Jatiluwih Red Rice Farmers Association was formed to encourage farmers with adjacent rice land to have better market opportunities, encouraging them to keep the land in rice cultivation, instead of converting it into other uses

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