, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 26-43

“Tinni” Rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff.) Production: An Integrated Sociocultural Agroecosystem in Eastern Uttar Pradesh of India

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Abstract

This study reports how Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and informal cultural institutions have conserved key varieties of the wildgrowing rice, ‘tinni’ (red rice, or brownbeard rice, Oriza rufipogon Griff.), within the Bhar community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. The study was conducted, using conventional and participatory methods, in 10 purposively selected Bhar villages. Two distinct varieties of tinni (‘tinni patali’ and ‘tinni moti’) with differing habitats and phenotypic characters were identified. Seven microecosystems (Kari, Badaila, Chammo, Karmol, Bhainsiki, Bhainsala and Khodailia) were found to support these varieties in differing proportions. Tinni rice can withstand more extreme weather conditions (the highest as well as lowest temperatures and rainfall regimes) than the ‘genetically improved’ varieties of rice (Oriza sativa L.) grown in the region. Both tinni varieties are important bioresources for the Bhar’s subsistence livelihoods, and they use distinctive conservation approaches in their maintenance. Bhar women are the main custodians of tinni rice agrobiodiversity, conserving tinni through an institution called Sajha. Democratic decision-making at meetings organized by village elders determines the market price of the tinni varieties. Overall, the indigenous institutions and women’s participation seem to have provided safeguards from excessive exploitation of tinni rice varieties. The maintenance of tinni through cultural knowledge and institutions serves as an example of the importance of locally maintained crop varieties in contributing to people’s resilience and food security in times of rapid social and environmental change.