Migaru Rice

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Migaru is a type of rice cultivated in the jhum (shifting slash and burn cultivation) fields of the Garo Hills in Meghalaya, India. Its aroma is very fragrant and it is usually mixed with normal rice when cooked or used for making the traditional rice beer. There are two types of migaru: the larger rongdalgipa and the smaller rongchongipa, which is harvested in November by the women of the communities. Migaru is grown near the roadside along the border of cultivated land and does not grow well in other places. Indigenous farm tools, such as a grass cutter locally known as katchi, are used for harvesting. Migaru is prepared using a mortar and pestle to remove the husk and clean the grain. Once this is done, the rice cannot be kept for long periods because it spoils quite quickly however migaru with the husk still intact can be stored for over a year.

According to Garo folklore the Garo forefathers could predict when there would be akal karap, a period of unfavorable or low harvests in the jhum fields. Migaru is kept for these times and used as substitute for normal rice. Furthermore, the local rice beer made of migaru is very strong and people like to drink it at the time of wangala, which is the biggest festival for the Garo.

In the past the Garo people used to cultivate migaru on a very large scale. However since being converted to Christianity the use and importance of this grain has been fading away. Nowadays it can no longer be found in the markets of villages such as Chandigre, Sasatgre and Daribokgre and the seeds are very rare meaning there is less and less cultivation. It is now only produced for home consumption by various communities among the Garo Hills.

The Garo people consider migaru to be a healthy food that does not bring harm to human beings. They believe that if the advantages of cultivating this crop were better known throughout the Garo community it would provide a great opportunity for the people and migaru would once again flourish in the Garo hills and avoid extinction.

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Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Garo