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Afghanistan & India Basmati History

Afghanistan & India Basmati History

Afghanistan & India Basmati History

Afghanistan and India in the window of history: the Afghan emperor left Dehradun with the smell of delicious Basmati.

Many types of aromatic and delicious rice are produced in the world, but not all rice is Basmati.

This rice is grown in many states of India. Since this particular rice is named Basmati in Dehradun itself, hence its origin will be considered as Dehradun itself.

Along with the power struggle of Afghanistan, those who grow the famous Basmati seeds in Dehradun, which give aroma to the cooks of the rich, are also being remembered.

When in the first Anglo-Afghan war, the incumbent Dost Mohammad Khan was exiled and brought to Mussoorie in Dehradun district, he also brought with him the delicious and aromatic rice seeds there for his favourite delicious biryani.

In fact, when the farmers of Dehradun started growing it, due to its fragrance, it was named Basmati and along with its fragrance, its fame also spread. Basmati started smelling in the fields of India.

Today, India contributes 70 per cent of the world’s Basmati exports. The irony is such that due to the growth of forests of buildings in the fields of Basmati’s native land, only the name Dehradun Basmati has remained.

Afghan Shah had brought Basmati seeds to Dehradun

In the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–1842) waged by the forces of Britain and Maharaja Ranjit Singh, when Shah Shuja of the Durrani dynasty of Afghanistan was deposed on the throne, Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Barakzai dynasty, was exiled. The family was kept in Mussoorie.

It is said that Dost Mohammad was very fond of Biryani, so his employees brought with him the most delicious rice seeds along with soil in the hollow part of the bamboo.

Dost Khan returned to his homeland in 1843 and again sat on the throne of Kabul. After he died in 1863, his third son Sher Ali ascended the throne.

After the death of Sher Ali in 1879, his son Yakub Khan became the Shah (Emir) of Afghanistan, but in 1879 after the British envoy and his bodyguards were killed in Kabul, the British again attacked Kabul and took Yakub captive.

To Mussoorie. After that Yakub went to Dehradun’s E.C. He settled with his Lashkar in the Road area where he died in 1923.

When Yakub’s employees sowed the seeds of this special rice in the fields around them, its fragrance started spreading and local farmers of Dehradun also started growing it by asking for the seeds.

Basmati seed came from the Kunar province of Afghanistan

According to historical accounts, the royal Khan family had brought this special type of aromatic and flavorful rice paddy from the Kunar province of Afghanistan.

Even today 74 per cent of the people in this province are dependent on agriculture. The soil there is relatively high in calcium carbonate, with a pH ranging from 8.00 to 8.50, which is considered good for cultivation.

Due to the same effect in the soil of Dehradun, situated between the Himalayas and Shivaliks, the paddy of Afghanistan was frozen, whose rice came to be called Basmati due to its smell and taste.

For hundreds of years, the fate of the farmers of Dehradun continued to smell like this Basmati. But later with the spread of agricultural science, this traditional basmati was considered less profitable, because its per hectare production was low, its straw was high and its long stem was more prone to pests.

It was also considered more susceptible to disease, so the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi created a new species named Pusa-1, which gives more yield and breaks less rice. Its plant is also much smaller in size than the original Basmati.

In Dehradun too, only Varnashankar of original Basmati was sown, but seeing the speed with which buildings are growing in the fields, it seems that now there will be no land left to sow.

A forest of buildings started growing in the fields of Basmati

Due to the attraction of land-erosion and dazzling urban life, due to migration, the agricultural area is decreasing rapidly in Uttarakhand itself.

At the time of formation of the state, the area of ​​agriculture here was about 7.70 lakh hectares, which according to the answer of a question in the Legislative Assembly by the Agriculture Minister, remained only 4,92643 hectares till the year 2020.

In basmati producer Dehradun, the condition of agricultural land is even worse. After becoming the capital, colonies have grown in Basmati growing places like Majra, Sevla, Brahmanwala, Niranjanpur, Mehuwala, Pitthuwala, Bharuwala and Doiwala etc.

After becoming the capital, there has been a lot of pressure on the land of Dehradun. On the behest of land merchants, the Trivendra government has included 85 villages of Dehradun district in municipal corporations and municipalities, due to which the purchase of land for other purposes has become very easy through the destruction of Zamindari and the holes made in the Land Arrangement Act.

Even in the master plan of 2005, about 2200 hectares of agricultural land has been converted for non-agricultural purposes.

Not every aromatic rice is basmati

Many types of aromatic and flavorful rice are produced in the world, but not all rice is Basmati. Basmati is the one that is certified through DNA by Basmati Export Development Foundation.

As per the norms of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Corporation (APEDA), rice which is 6.61 mm in length and 2 mm in thickness before cooking is classified as Basmati.

This rice is grown in many states of India. Since this particular rice is named Basmati in Dehradun itself, its origin will be considered as Dehradun itself.

India is the world’s largest exporter of Basmati

India contributes 70 per cent of the world’s Basmati exports. According to APEDA data, India exported 44 lakh tonnes of Basmati in 2019.

Although the fans of this rice are spread in 132 countries of the world, the lovers of countries like Saudi Arabia have this Basmati a little more. 24% of India’s Basmati exports are to Saudi Arabia, 15%, Iran, 12%, Iraq, 7%, Yemen and 5% to the United Arab Emirates.

Due to this rice being very sweet, its demand is all over the world, but due to the lack of production according to the demand, there is a lot of adulteration in it.

When Britain’s “Food Standards Agency” tested different types of Basmati in 2005, more than half of the rice varieties were found to be adulterated.

When the agency did lab testing again in 2010, 4 out of 15 samples were found to be fake basmati. Hence this tendency to malign Basmati’s image needs to be stopped.

Haryana India’s largest producer

Haryana is the largest Basmati producer (60%.) state in India. According to the data of APEDA, in the year 2019, there was basmati production at 8,43,400 hectares.

Similarly, in Punjab, 5,50,100 ha, Uttar Pradesh has 4,63,600 ha, Uttarakhand has 17,200 ha, Jammu and Kashmir have 54,300 ha, and Himachal Pradesh has 8,700 ha. About 7 thousand tonnes of Basmati is produced in Uttarakhand.

34 Varieties of Basmati in India

So far 34 varieties of Basmati rice have been notified under the Seeds Act, 1966.

These are Basmati 217, Basmati 370, Type 3 (Dehradun Basmati), Punjab Basmati 1 (Bouni Basmati), Pusa Basmati 1, Kasturi, Haryana Basmati 1, Mahi.

Sugandha, Taraori Basmati (HBC 19/ Karnal Local), Ranbir Basmati, Basmati 386, Improved Pusa Basmati 1 (Pusa 1460), Pusa Basmati 1121 (After Amendment), Vallabh Basmati 22, Pusa Basmati 6 (Pusa 1401), Punjab Basmati 2, Basmati CSR 30 (After Amendment), Malviya Basmati Dhan 10-9 (IET 21669), Vallabh Basmati 21 (IET 19493), Pusa Basmati 1509 (IET 21960), Basmati 564, Vallabh Basmati 23, Vallabh Basmati 24, Pusa Basmati 1609, Pant Basmati 1 (IET 21665), Pant Basmati 2 (IET 21953), There are Punjab Basmati 3, Pusa Basmati 1637, Pusa Basmati 1728, Pusa Basmati 1718, Punjab Basmati 4, Punjab Basmati 5, Haryana Basmati 2 and Pusa Basmati 1692.

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AUTHORDeepa Chandravanshi

Deepa Chandravanshi is the founder of The Magadha Times & Chandravanshi. Deepa Chandravanshi is a writer, Social Activist & Political Commentator.

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