Maza is a particular variety of price that is found in the districts of Senapati and Ukhrul in Manipur in northeastern India and grown by the Mao tribe. It is unique and famously known for its drought resistance and ability to grow in many weather conditions. Interestingly, this variety also matures much faster than many other rice varieties. Maza is seeded in April, transplanted in May and ready for harvest in September. It is known to grow well in the shade, another unusual characteristic for rice. The grains are white in color with brown streaks. It is a short-grained rice that is quite starchy.
In Manipur, maza is eaten as a staple food, served with a combination of vegetables and curries. In the past, maza rice was extremely highly regarded amongst the farmers for its qualities of being drought resistant. Even today people consider it as ‘the poor man’s grain’ as it grows and produces enough regardless of how bad the season is. Interestingly, communities also report that this variety of rice fills up the stomach more than other varieties.
It is hard to give an estimate of how much quantity is produced today, but according to locals, cultivation of maza has decreased in recent years. It can sometimes, but not always be found at local markets. It faces heavy competition from other rice varieties, because maza is relatively low yielding. Because of this, many farmers are moving away from cultivating this variety, as it does not generate as much income for them. If this drought resistant variety is lost, an important piece of food security will be lost as well.