Ulpotha Heritage Rice comprises a variety of pure strains of very rare indigenous rice, produced by unique communities of villagers in the jungle heartland of Sri Lanka. Ulpotha supports and celebrates not just a method of farming but a way of life....read more
Ulpotha Heritage Rice comprises a variety of pure strains of very rare indigenous rice, produced by unique communities of villagers in the jungle heartland of Sri Lanka. Ulpotha supports and celebrates not just a method of farming but a way of life.
Traditional methods of farming, where respect is paid to local deities, and lunar cycles are used to determine auspicious times for planting and harvesting, are embraced in Ulpotha. Naturally no artificial fertilisers and pesticides are employed on the land. Instead age-old bio-dynamic formulas, traditional rituals, and bio-diversity are used to ensure a healthy harvest. In order to preserve the natural environment, water buffalo plough the fields and thresh the paddy in place of tractors. And, in keeping with old village practises, most of these farming activities are times for communal song, dance and celebration.
The principal ideal behind Ulpotha and its farming activities has been to promote agriculture that does not poison the earth or upset the delicate balance of nature, whilst encouraging traditional agrarian lifestyles. Within Ulpotha itself, all agricultural activity has been centred on rediscovering the traditional, sustainable methods of farming that work with rather than against nature. Over the years, old and rare rice varieties have been cultivated within the framework of a work and lifestyle ethic that emphasises man's interdependence within the seen and unseen worlds of nature.
Crops are protected from bugs and pests using traditional and biological methods. These start with the choosing of auspicious times for planting and the making and keeping of ritual vows to the spirits of the land. Biological means, such as the use of powdered neem seeds, dried makra leaves, crushed coconut shavings, sap from the jak fruit, cactus milk, branches of the kaduru tree, bamboo leaves and riverbed sand, are all employed when required and appropriate to deal with any infestations.
Ploughing and threshing of the paddy are carried out using buffalo, as the use of tractors is avoided. The latter tend to break through the crust that retain water in paddy fields, resulting in the need for far greater amounts of irrigation. They also tend to dig up the soil too deeply, bringing less fertile soil to the surface to the detriment of the crops. Buffalo, on the other hand, do not cause these difficulties and do not produce air and noise pollution, while they do produce useful fertiliser and nourishing milk. They also reproduce.
Before the introduction of fertiliser-dependant hybrids, there were over four hundred different varieties of rice grown in the country, each with different nutrient values and characteristics. Now only a handful of rice strains are widely grown - almost all of which are hybrids. When Ulpotha was first established, rare indigenous rice seeds were carefully collected for their taste and high nutritional value from small traditional farmers all over Sri Lanka and a small seed bank established.
In nutritional content, texture, appearance, aroma and - most importantly - taste, these pure strains of indigenous rice are unlike any other.
Kaluheenati, which literally means dark, fine grain, is a highly nutritious red rice that is considered to have medicinal properties, and is particularly recommended for lactating mothers.
Kuruwee literally means 'small rice', and is a sweet and soft red rice.
Gonabaru is a very rare old variety of red rice that formed the staple diet of both peasant and king.
Dhikwee is a soft and wholesome red rice that is high in nutritional value.
Pachchaperumal is a wholesome short grain red rice that when cooked takes on a deep rich burgundy colour. Pachchuperumal means 'Buddha's colour' and has been considered a divine rice in traditional Singhalese culture. It has been used for centuries in 'Danes' (offerings to the monks during a thanksgiving or vow to the gods for rain, protection of crops etc)
Samba is a soft and delicious white rice that has been the traditional rice of choice for festivities and alms-giving.
Suwandel is a rare white rice that is, as its translated name implies, fragrant.