KOLKATA (TIP): Cancer patients may soon have an organic way to fight the dreaded disease. Black rice, a heritage variety of Bengal rice, is known for its high amount of antioxidants that prevent cancer.

Anupam Paul, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Agriculture Training Centre, Fulia said, “Black rice has a high amount of antioxidants that help in fighting diseases like cancer. It is still in the process of experimentation. Once it is completely proven, we might grow more of this.”

The source of these antioxidants are yellow pigments, which contain anthocyanins in the hull of the rice. Black rice is different from other organic rice as it has the highest amount of iron and zinc.

Paul mentioned that most doctors treating cancer patients are not aware of the fact that black rice has minerals that are anti-cancerous. “The lack of marketing has led to this. Had people known about the positive effects, they would have opted for this. We are trying our best to reach out to doctors,” said Paul.

Nirupam Das, an ex-government employee, said, “I buy only organic rice. I am a diabetic patient and my doctor has recommended organic rice and vegetables to avoid falling prey to kidney malfunction.”

This is the only form of Japonica rice served in Bengal and it is not just used as a medicine. Black rice also helps diabetics.

The seeds of black rice are mainly sourced from Manipur and Thailand. Das said he has been harvesting black rice since 2008. The ‘folk rice and seeds festival’, which hosted the organic food forum at Seva Kendra recently, had around 1,000 varieties of rice on display. More than 150 farmers and seed savers from Bengal, Assam, Odisha, UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand were part of this festival.

Permanent counters will soon be set up in Baghbajar Ramakrishna Mission and Ballygunge Bharat Sevashram Sangha, where non-perishable organic items like rice, pulses and their products will be available directly from the farmers.