Q1. Madam, could you please tell our readers about the market potential for the processing of Rice-based products?

In India, a variety of rice-based products are prepared, consumed, and distributed due to the diversity of religion, ethnicity, culture, and traditions. Each region of the country is characterized by different dishes made out of rice while the grains are common to the Indian diet. Although most of these products are still prepared at home only, the organized market for these rice-based products is still at a nascent stage and therefore, lacks sufficient evidence-based data. Some of the dry products prepared from rice like Puffed Rice, Flattened Rice, Rice Papad, Rice Upma, Dosa/Chakuli, etc. find their place in the market as they have a longer shelf life. Increasing purchasing power, inclination toward ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food products, and adherence to traditional food products have led these traditional rice-based products to find their place in modern retail stores across the country. With the market expansion of these products, there comes an opportunity to make the small and marginal households a part of these expansions by providing them training and employing them to produce these traditional products.

Rice export policy must be reoriented by evaluating the comparative advantage of the area and products and we should look towards the global value chain by going beyond food security alone. More frontline research on marketing and value addition may increase the profitability of rice farmers by encouraging the cultivation of Specialty Rice, Sticky Rice, Jasmine Rice and Fragrant Rice, by tweaking the rice export policy to promote the export of value added rice, building value chain of new rice products, etc. Further, efforts like enhancing bran/bran oil content in rice lines, development of healthy rice-based snacks, organic rice, biofortified rice, etc. are additional options for enhancing profitability.

Q.2. Could you please tell us about the support and facilities provided by ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Odisha to micro food processing enterprises?

We have the facilities for processing, value addition, packaging, and marketing of rice and other agricultural produce with the additional financial support received from the Govt. of Odisha through RKVY programmes. We can provide hands-on training and consultation for value addition and processing to the stakeholders. We also have the Agri-Business Incubation Centre to give training to enterprisers to develop startups.

Q3. What are the major value-added products that can be made from rice processing?

Rice and rice-based products derived from the rice grain and rice flour include parboiled rice; quick-cooking rice and ready-to-eat convenience foods; rice flours; rice starch; cakes and puddings; baked breads and crackers; breakfast cereals and expanded rice products; extrusion-cooked and puffed-rice snacks; noodles, paper, and pasta; baby/weaning foods; fermented foods and beverages; pet food products; and bran products.

Value addition enhances the profitability of rice production. A wide range of product development like processed and canned, ready-to-eat products, vitamin, protein, zinc, iron or calcium-enriched flaked or puffed rice, flavoured rice, starch extraction from broken rice and so on are getting popular nowadays. Value-added products from organic rice and therapeutic value medicinal rice varieties have a good niche in the domestic and export markets. Rice beer is an alcoholic drink generally made from rice. Those who consume moderate amounts of beer (one to two a day at the most) have a 30-40% lower rate of coronary heart disease compared to those who do not drink. Beer contains a similar amount of polyphenols (antioxidants) as red wine and 4-5 times as many polyphenols as white wine. Alcohol has also been attributed to its ability to increase the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) into the bloodstream as well as help to decrease blood clots.

By‐products from the rice milling process have high amounts of nutrients when compared to white rice itself. Rice straw, rice hull, broken rice, rice germ, rice bran, rice bran oil, and wax are the by‐products of the rice industry. These by‐products usually have basic applications in their original form, but now can be used as raw materials for different value‐added research or in food applications with functional properties.

Rice by‐products not only contain various types of functional components but also contain dietary fiber. The fiber can be mostly found in rice hulls and the types of fiber present include cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and hydrated silica. Because of the high fiber content in rice hulls and rice bran, they are used as ingredients by the bakery industries to increase the fiber content and improve the nutrition of bakery products.

I am happy to mention here that our institute has published a book on “Traditional Rice Foods: The Rich Heritage of India” encompassing 107 most popular rice-based food products from across the country, which is available on our website. The book clearly mentions the ingredients required and the method of preparation. Major traditional rice foods of Eastern India include Arisa Pitha, Kakara Pitha, Poda Pitha, Manda Pitha, Enduri Pitha, Budha Chakuli, Chakuli Pitha, Chhunchipatra Pitha, Chitau Pitha, Kanika, Mudhi Muan, Payesh, Khichudi, Dhuska, Angakar Roti, Chila and so on. Similarly, in Northern India, Kashmiri Pulao, Phirni, Saffron Rice, Jholi, Jaipuri Mewa Pulao, Tehri; in Southern India, Akki Roti, Belladanna, Chitranna, Rice Burfi, Coonut Sevai, Unniappam, Idli, Dosha, and curd rice, etc. In Western India, Bordoliki Khichdi, Dhokla, Khichu, Modak, Thalipeeth and Rice Chapati, etc. are some of the major traditional rice-based food products. All these food products have the potential for start-ups based on their shelf-life and packaging quality. ICAR-NRRI has a state-of-art research cum training facility for the development of various rice-based value-added products, managed by scientists having specialization in food processing technologies.

Q4. Could you please tell us about the Rice-based research and development carried out by ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Odisha, and interesting research outcomes that you have come across in all these years?

ICAR-NRRI is a pioneer Research Institute in the field of rice research in the country. The Institute has played a pivotal role in bringing the green revolution to the country by providing varietal production and protection technologies for rice. To date, more than 150 rice varieties have been developed and released by the Institute for different rice ecologies such as Irrigated, Rainfed Lowland, Rainfed Upland, Semi-deep water situation, and Boro rice. Besides, ICAR-NRRI has played an important role in developing several stress-tolerant varieties such as submergence tolerant rice viz. Swarna-Sub1, Pooja-Sub1, Savitri Sub1, and drought-tolerant varieties. Due to climate change in the same season both drought and submergence occur at different times. In order to address this issue, ICAR-NRRI has developed multiple stress-tolerant varieties (climate-resilient varieties) like CR Dhan-801 CR Dhan-802. In order to address malnutrition, particularly calorie and micronutrient malnutrition, we have developed high protein rice CR Dhan-310, High Protein, and Zinc rice CR Dhan-311 and CR Dhan-315. The latter was released by Hon’ble PM. In order to enhance the farmers’ income and meet the high-end consumers, we have developed several aromatic rice varieties with higher yield potential such as Geetanjali and CR Dhan-902. We have also improved several local aromatic rice such as Nua-Chinikamini, Nua-Dhusura, Nua-Kalajeera, etc. that can fetch a good price for farmers in the market.

In the field of Hybrid rice, we have developed and released 3 hybrids such as Ajay, Rajalaxmi, CR Dhan-701, CR Dhan-702, and CR Dhan-703. Rajalaxmi & CR Dhan-703 can be taken both in Kharif and Rabi seasons. We are using modern breeding tools such as double haploid technology, MAB to reduce the breeding cycles and we have been able to reduce the time of developing varieties from 7-8 years from an earlier period to 4-5 years. Now, we are also working on genome editing using CRISPER/CAS-9 for modifying/editing certain genes for trait development such as higher yield, disease resistance (sheath blight), higher NUE.

Besides this, we have developed several production and protection technologies such as INM, SSNM, IPM modules for rice and rice-based systems. We have developed several microbial formulations such as microbial consortium for straw, decomposition, endophytic, N-fixers in rice, microbial biocontrol agents for leaf folders, growth-promoting trichoderma formulations, etc. We have developed several farm equipments for mechanization of small and marginal farmers with small field sizes such as manual and self-propelled seed drill, self-propelled and manual transplanter, weeder, rice husk stove, solar drier, etc. We have developed several extension models such as 4S4R, INSPIRE-1.0, and INSPIRE-2.0 for extension of technology developed for rice and rice-based products.

Q5. With the immense experience that you have gathered over the period, how do you think the PMFME Scheme would be able to empower micro food processing enterprises?

There are nearly 25 lakh food processing enterprises in the country, which are unregistered and informal. Nearly 66% of these units are located in rural areas and 80% of them are family-based enterprises. Most of these units come under micro-manufacturing units according to their investment in plant, machinery, and turnover. The unorganized enterprises contribute 74% of the employment (a third of which are women) 12% of output, and 27% of the value-added in the food processing sector. There is a need of organising these sectors in India to strengthen the economy and food security of our country.

The PMFME Scheme can empower the micro food processing industry in many ways like increased access to credit for existing micro food processing entrepreneurs, FPOs, Self Help Groups, and Co-operatives; support to integrate with the organized supply chain by strengthening branding and marketing; increased access to common services like common processing facility, laboratories, storage, packaging, marketing, and incubation services; strengthening of institutions, research, and training in the food processing sector; increased access for the enterprises to professional and technical support.

Q6. What would be your advice to aspiring food processing entrepreneurs?

My advice to aspiring food processing entrepreneurs is to enroll themselves in the PMFME Schemes which is a very good initiative of the Govt. Of India under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The thing we need to do is to create awareness among the budding entrepreneurs about the Scheme through newspapers, TV, social media, research institutes, educational institutes, and most importantly through Incubators. Entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to enroll in this Scheme through the PMFME Scheme website by different stakeholders of incubation systems so that they can take advantage of the Scheme.

About Dr. Padmini Swain, Director, ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Odisha

Dr. Padmini Swain completed B.Sc. (Botany Hons.) from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar in 1980 with 1st Class Hons. with Distinction. In 1982, she completed M.Sc. (Botany) from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar in 1st Division (Grade A+). In 1984, she joined Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack as Senior Research Fellow (under ICAR National Fellow Scheme) under the guidance of Dr. K. S. Murty (Plant Physiologist). In 1989, she was awarded a Ph.D degree in Botany from Utkal University. In 1989, she joined as a Scientist (through ARS system) at NAARM and subsequently at Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack. From 1990 till date, she has worked at ICAR-NRRI as a Scientist, Senior Scientist, Principal Scientist, Head of the Division, and presently, she is serving as the Director of the Institute. With Plant Physiology as the specialization, Dr. Swain has over 31 years of research experience in different aspects of Production Physiology, Photosynthesis and Productivity, Biomass Partitioning, Physiology of Hybrid Rice, Stress Physiology like Drought Heat and Lowlight Stress.

She has been credited for the development of a robust field screening technology to screen a large number of rice germplasm lines (2100 at a time) for vegetative stage drought tolerance. She has screened more than 15,000 rice germplasm lines and identified 250 donor lines including two wild rice accessions of Oryza nivara (IC -330470 and IC -330611) over repeated screening for drought tolerance at different stages. She has published 95 research papers in National and International Journals, edited 2 books, published 25 book chapters, 5 popular articles, 4 technology bulletins, 3 training manuals, and compendium chapters. Dr. Padmini Swain received ISPP Fellow Award in 2000 by the Indian Society for Plant Physiology, New Delhi for contribution in the field of Plant Physiology and Cognate Sciences. She received the ISSN AWARD 2020 for "Best Researcher in Rice Physiology" by the International Society for Scientific Network, USA and the FRA Fellow Award 2020 by the Association of Rice Research Workers for contribution in the field of Rice Research more specifically in the Basic Science category.

About ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Odisha

The outbreak of devastating epiphytotic brown spot disease of rice (Helminthosporium spp) in the then Bengal province (the areas of which are now in the state of West Bengal and Bangladesh) in 1942 resulted in a serious shortage of rice. Added to this, the failure of civil administration to cope with such a disastrous situation culminated in what was called the Great Bengal Famine of 1943. With this background, the Central Government, in the year 1944, decided to intensify research on all aspects of the rice crop. In the following year, the Government decided to establish a Central Institute for Rice Research and this led to the establishment of the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) on April 23, 1946 at Bidyadharpur, Cuttack, Odisha with experimental farmland of 60 hectares provided by the Government of Odisha. Dr. K Ramiah, an eminent rice breeder, was the founder Director. Subsequently, in 1966, the administrative control of the Institute was transferred to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The Institute was renamed as ICAR-National Rice Research Institute (NRRI) in the year 2015.

ICAR-NRRI is one of the institutes of ICAR under the Crop Science Division. The Institute has three research stations; Hazaribag, Jharkhand for carrying out rice research on rainfed upland ecologies; Gerua, Assam for carrying out rice research on flood-prone rainfed lowland ecologies; Naira, Andhra Pradesh for carrying out rice research on coastal saline ecologies. Two Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) also function under the administrative control of ICAR-NRRI. These are located at Santhapur, Cuttack, Odisha and Jainagar, Koderma, Jharkhand.

ICAR-NRRI has developed 154 rice varieties for different ecologies viz; rainfed upland, shallow lowland, semi-deep and deep water, irrigated, aerobic and saline conditions including three hybrids Ajay, Rajalalaxmi and CR Dhan 701; three bio-fortified rice varieties: CR Dhan 310 - a high protein rice variety with an average 10.3% protein in milled rice, CR Dhan -311 (Mukul) with high protein content (10.1%) and moderately high level of Zn content (21 ppm) in 10% polished rice, CR Dhan 315 with zinc content of 25 ppm in milled rice; two Climate-resilient rice varieties CR Dhan 801 and CR Dhan 802 having both drought and submergence tolerance.

The vision of the Institute is to ensure sustainable food and nutritional security and equitable prosperity of our Nation through rice science. With the goal of ensuring food and nutritional security for the present and future generations of rice producers and consumers, the Institute is working towards its mission of the development and dissemination of eco-friendly technologies to enhance productivity, profitability, and sustainability of rice cultivation. NRRI is recognized with Sardar Patel Outstanding ICAR Institution Award 2008 in Large Institution Category and Award for Contribution to Green Revolution of India by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi in 2015.

(Content shared by ICAR-National Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, Odisha)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the above guest and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.