Pantanal Native Rice

Ark of taste
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The Arroz-nativo-do-Pantanal (Pantanal native rice) is also known locally as Arroz-do-campo or, in the language of the native Guató people, as Machamo. Pantanal native rice is actually two wild rice species, Oryza latifolia Desv. and Oryza glumaepatula Steud. Both species belong to the Poaceae family. They are aquatic grasses, reaching up to 5 m tall during the seasonal flooding, when approximately 3 to 3.5 m are underwater and up to 1.5 m can be seen above the surface. The two species have some slight physical differences, but both are distributed throughout Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil (in the states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Pará, Amazonas and Maranhão). Both species produce rice between May and early June, when the Paraguay River is at its highest level. Together the two species form several hectares of natural patches in the floodplains of the Pantanal and the Paraguay River. Production quantities vary from year to year following different levels of flooding. The Paraguay River has a flooding area that varies from 4,000 to 16,000 square km between the dry and inundation seasons, and most of the area is covered by fields of aquatic grasses. These natural environments are well preserved, and all the grasses, including the two species of rice, are usually used as pasture for the cattle during the periods when the Pantanal is not flooded. However, in the last few years, the cattle management in neighboring areas, or even in the lowlands, has been responsible for several fires that destroyed a large part of the vegetation during the dry season. Collecting native plants encourages people to protect these environments that are so important to the conservation of the regional biodiversity. In this context, the Pantanal native rice is a key species. The wild rice was traditionally collected by the Guató Indians, a native people of the Pantanal region who used to live mostly in canoes along the Paraguay River. It is a unique product that has been used by the native population but has never been commercialized or cultivated. This rice has a nutty flavor, firm consistency and more vitamins and protein than any other variety of brown rice. It is excellent for salads and risotto. This local tradition was practically lost with the arrival of the European settlers in the region, but it is being slowly recovered. The rice is now harvested by the local population who live in the riverine communities of São Lourenço and Castelo along the Paraguay River. The Guató are now being encouraged to do the same. It yields approximately 3 kg of rough rice to 1 kg of husked rice. Current production is around 200 kg per year. With the support of a project carried out by the University of Mato Grosso do Sul, the rice is being sold mainly to the university community and to chefs linked to Slow Food. As the production is very low, the prices are high. The community of producers is discussing strategies to increase the production and lower the price.

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Mato Grosso do Sul

Production area:São Lourenço and Castelo river communities

Other info


Cereals and flours

Indigenous community:Guatò