Mangafototry Rice

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The name of mangafototry rice comes from the Malagasy words manga (“blue”) and fototry (“roots”), and so means “blue roots rice.” The lower part of the plant that touches the soil has a characteristic sky blue color. It is a short cycle rice variety that is cultivated in the warm season (from August to December) and can be harvested after 90 days. Its low stems make it particularly resistant to storms and harsh weather conditions. It is, however, a cold sensitive variety. The rice grains are long (1 cm long and 3 mm wide) and white in color.   After harvesting the rice, the farmers thresh it by hand to separate the grains from the plant. After that, the grains are dried for a half or a full day, depending on the sun. After drying, the rice is packaged into bags or in small cube-shaped containers made of vegetal fibers. These bags are kept in small, wooden houses built 1 meter off the ground to keep them safe from rats and other animals. Mangafototry rice has been cultivated for generations, but disappeared for a time in the area. It was rediscovered in central Madagascar thanks to a seed distribution program that took place after Cyclone Geralda in 1984.   Mangafototry rice is grown in Madagascar in the central southern region of Ihorombe, where rice is a staple food. It is served with many different dishes and features in many cultural events and customs. It is usually cooked directly on the fire, using three triangle shaped stones to hold the cooking pots. It is cooked in varying quantities of boiling water depending on the way the rice is to be cooked. For vary maina (dry rice), the rice is not immersed completely in the water. This is usually served with meat dishes. The rice vary sosoa is cooked with a lot of water to obtain a rice that is eaten for breakfast.   Today, cultivation of this variety has decreased drastically due to drought problems. It has been continually cultivated since 1999, and today a small group of farmers preserves this variety. It has become well suited to the climate of the region, and about 50 tons are harvested annually, sold commercially in limited quantities, but mainly harvested for personal consumption. Mangafototry rice risks being replaced by imported and hybrid rice varieties, and may be lost if not actively cultivated and preserved. 

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