Madagascar’s ‘Dista’ rice
Rice is Madagascar’s main staple crop and ‘Dista’ rice, which is cultivated in the Toamasina province near Lake Alaotra (in the northern central plateau of Madagascar), is named after the farmer who discovered it.
The rice, a pale pink color, smells like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, is very nutritious and yields are double that of other varieties.
Dista rice also shatters less when milled, helping reduce post harvest losses and increasing farmers’ income.
Dista yields are also high for another reason: farmers are using the “Système de Riziculture Intensive” to cultivate it (see http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/index.html for “System of Rice Intensification”, SRI). SRI practices include transplanting seedlings when they are very young and growing them widely apart, adding compost from organic matter to the soil, weeding regularly, and using a minimum amount of water instead of flooding fields. This helps create deep root systems that are better able to resist drought, while also increasing yields, strengthening the plant, and enhancing its flavour.
(Source: Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet, 28 March 2011)
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