Aug , 2021, Volume : 2 Article : 15

Black-rice of Manipur: A potential waiting to be unlocked

Author : Tusoing Alphonse Houmai H, Oinam Krishnadas Singh, Laishram Priscilla

Cite this article as:


Houmai H, T. A., Singh, O.K., Priscilla, L. (2021) Black-rice of Manipur: A potential waiting to be unlocked. Food and Scientific Reports. 2 (8) 62-64.



Black rice has gained popularity in recent times since consumers have begun realizing its extremely nutritional and health benefits. In India, the north-eastern state of Manipur is known for its traditional cultivars of black rice. Although, the yield of black rice is much lower (around 12-15 q/acre) compared to white rice (around 20-25 q/acre), their economic returns are exponentially higher due to its lower cost of cultivation and the much higher price it fetches (around 4 to 5 times or even higher price than white rice). The growing demand for this rice, both at the national and international markets can be tapped by investing in commercialization avenues and marketing infrastructures through research and development and active participation of the central and state government.

Keywords: Black rice, Manipur, yield, returns, potential


Rice (Oryza sativa) is the second most important food crop of the world after wheat. Black rice, a rice species of Oryza sativa L., is an old rice variety grown at earlier times in history and is not grown on a large scale in modern agriculture. There are more than 200 varieties of black rice in the world with a long history of cultivation in south-east Asian countries. China alone constitutes about 62% of the global production of black rice and has developed more than 54 modern varieties with multiple resistance and high yield characteristics.

                Black rice is also known as ‘Forbidden Rice’ or ‘Imperial Rice’ since common people was not allowed to cultivate it without approval from authorities. It contains higher levels of proteins, vitamins and minerals than common white rice (Suzuki et al., 2004). Many believed this rice as a cure for many diseases because of its curative effect and high nutritive value. In India, black rice is indigenous to the northeastern states and is also extensively grown in Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand. Among the northeastern states of India, Manipur is famous for its diverse traditional black rice varieties, landraces, and cultivars. The loss of rice genetic variety, is a major issue for farmers, environmentalists, scientists, policymakers, and, most importantly, rice-loving consumers (Roy et al., 2018). Documentation of importance of such rice varieties or germplasms are necessary.


Black rice of Manipur

                Manipur, due to its moderately cool climate, is suitable for the cultivation of black rice. It has been playing a significant role in the socio-cultural practices of indigenous Meitei community of Manipur since long (Asem et al., 2015). ‘Chakhao’, meaning delicious rice in Manipuri language, is a lesser-known scented black rice of the state which has drawn the attention of the scientific community in most recent times owing to its higher nutraceutical properties such as anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Chakhao is mainly consumed as rice or kheer after being cooked and is also served during ceremonies and communal feasts.

Cultivars of Black Rice

                Chakhao Poireiton, Chakhao Angouba, Chakhao Amubi, and Chakhao Pungdol amubi are the recorded landraces of black rice in Manipur. Among these landraces, the most cultivated one by framers is Chakhao Poireiton constituting about 43% due to its delicacy and higher yield. Black rice plants are comparatively taller than the other traditional non-black rice varieties by attaining about 136-166 cm in height. The tallest among black rice landraces was Chakhao Amubi (165.5 cm) and Chakhao Poireiton has recorded the highest panicle length number of grains and tillers, however average grain weight of Chakhao Angouba was higher than other landraces (Borah et al., 2018).  Compared to other black rice varieties, Chakhao Angouba variety has a deep black color and is higher by weight over brown rice, etc.  Mainly due to the anthocyanin agent and is suitable for creating a dessert, porridge, etc.

 Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Black Rice

                The GI status indicates where goods are produced from a particular area that has special quality attributable to its geographical origin. The recognition of the GI tag has the possibility of preserving many traditional skills and also has a great potential to play a major role in trade. To help farmers attain their recognition and compensation for their locally grown produce Chakhao, an organization responsible for registration and supervision of GIs of North-Eastern India (North-Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited, NERAMAC) filed for the GI tag. And accordingly, Chakhao got the tag (GI Reg. No 602) in 2020, due to its unique aroma and attractive color.

Nutritional benefits of Black Rice over other types of Rice

From the table 1, it is clear that black rice has higher nutritional value compared to other types of rice (white/red/brown rice). Moreover, Anthocyanin, the main pigment of black rice gives it its high antioxidant property, health benefits and natural coloring properties for use in other food applications. Its regular consumption regularizes blood cholesterol levels and reduces inflammation. Due to its low sugar, high vitamin E and rich fibre, black rice is a healthy dietary choice.

Yield and profitability of Black Rice 

                Although the yield of black rice is lower (around 12-15 q/acre) compared to white rice (around 20-25 q/acre), their economic returns is exponentially higher due to its lower cost of cultivation and much higher price it fetches. The price of black rice paddy is around Rs 80-85/kg, which is more than four times the Grade A paddy MSP (Rs 19.6/kg). The price of processed black rice goes up to around Rs 200-500/kg. Hence, research and development to find new means to increase the yield of black rice will go a long way in tapping its full potential.

Table 1: Nutritional profile of different rice varieties in per 100 g serving

Rice variety



















Black rice

34± 0.05









Red rice








0.10± 0.03

1.91±  0.03

Brown rice










White rice










Source: Kumar and Murali (2021)

Marketing of Black Rice

                In Manipur, the NGOs, FPOs or SHGs undertake the marketing of Chakhao through prior agreements with farmers. Commercial cultivation of black rice was not done in the state until recently as this rice is not taken as a staple and people were unaware of its full health benefits. However, realization of the inherent unique properties has led to quantum leap in demand even at the national and global markets.  As of now, in Manipur, Manipur Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium, few enterprising units and entrepreneurs are marketing the processed and graded rice in the national and international markets. Hence, creation of better marketing avenues for large scale commercialization of the crop will not only help improve farmers’ livelihood but will also contribute to the state and national economic growth and development.


                Black rice possessed antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties and is an excellent alternative to white and brown rice due to its nutrient density and high fiber content. Even with its lower yield compared to the traditional white rice and other HYV rice, the economic returns offered by black rice is exponentially higher. Awareness about the nutritional values of black rice has led to increased demand for it both at the national and international markets. Hence, commercialization at a larger scale will enable the farmers to reap the benefits of this crop and eventually contribute to the economic development of the state and even put the country at the fore-front of global markets.



Asem, I.D., Imotomba, R.K., Mazumder, P.B., & Laishram, J.M. (2015). Anthocyanin content in the black scented rice (Chakhao): its impact on human health and plant defense. Symbiosis, 66 (1): 47-54.

Borah, N., Athokpam, F. D., Semwal, R., & Garkoti, S.C. (2018). Chakhao (Blackrice. Oryza sativa L.): a culturally important and stress tolerant traditional rice variety of Manipur. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 17: 789–79.

Kumar, N., & Murali, R.D. (2021). Black rice: a novel ingredient in food processing. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences,10(2):1-7

 Suzuki, M., Kimur, T., Yamagishi, K., Shinmoto, H., & Yamak, K. (2004). Comparison of mineral contents in 8 cultivars of pigmented brown rice. Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi, 51(58):424-427.

Roy, K., Mukherjee, A., Maity, A., Shubha, K., & Nag, A. (2018). Protecting non-basmati indigenous aromatic rice varieties of West Bengal, India under geographical indication: a critical consideration. In The role of intellectual property rights in agriculture and allied sciences (pp. 295-318). Apple Academic Press.

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