Discovering Jumla Marsi: The Rise of a Himalayan Delicacy in Nepal’s Culinary Landscape

Explore the fascinating journey of Jumla Marsi, a unique rice variety thriving in Nepal's high hills. Uncover its history, cultivation process, and growing popularity as it makes a significant mark on the culinary scene. Discover the allure of this Himalayan delicacy.

What is Jumla Marsi (Kalimarsi Paddy)?

Jumla Marsi, also known as Kalimarsi Paddy, is a type of rice that grows in the high hills. Rajendra Kumar Bhattarai, a scientist at the Crop Science Division, explains that Jumla Marsi is a local rice variety adapted to the mountain climate. It thrives in the Sinja Valley, one of the world’s highest regions.

This rice variety is cultivated around the Sinj Valley of Jumla and along the Tila River. According to Bhattarai, there’s a local belief that the priest of Chandnath temple in Marcy Jumla introduced this rice from India. Atit Parajuli, a technical officer at the Paddy Breeding Unit, states that Kalimarsi rice can be grown at altitudes up to 3,050 meters.

Historical Background of Marsi Rice

Jumla Marsi, or Kalimarsi Paddy, grows extensively across Jumla, even at the world’s highest point of 2,790 meters in Jumla’s Chumchaur Zulu. It’s said to have originated in the 12th century. Around 1300 AD, Guru Chandannath Swami brought Kalimarsi rice seeds from Kashmir, India. He cultivated them using heated water to expand paddy cultivation in Lachhu Zulu.

After successful trials, Marcy rice was cultivated in Shera Zulu near the Chandannath temple and distributed to farmers. To this day, it’s customary to offer Marcy rice at the Chandannath temple. A legend attributes the establishment of Nepal’s post office to this rice variety. Marcy rice produced by local farmers was sent by mail to the then King.

In Jumla, paddy is grown in three altitude zones: highlands (2,000 to 2,200 meters above sea level), central region (2,200 to 2,800 meters above sea level), and higher highlands (2,800 to 3,050 meters above sea level).

The Cultivation Process

Jumli Marcy seeds are resilient to extreme cold. They are soaked initially and then sown in seedbeds after germination. After a month, the seedlings are transplanted to the field. Marsi rice takes around 150 to 170 days to mature after sowing.

In the past, Marsi rice faced a significant threat from a deadly disease. Researchers worked to protect and maintain the quality of this rice. Farmers were even discontinuing its cultivation due to the disease outbreak.

Advanced varieties like Chandnath-1 and Chandnath-3, which yield higher amounts, have been developed as alternatives to Marsi. However, these new varieties take an additional 180 days to mature compared to Marsi.

The Flavor and Popularity of Marsi

Technical officer Parajuli describes Jumli Marcy as tasty and nutritious, especially when consumed with milk and ghee. The rice is known for its sweetness and unique flavor. The term “Marcy” gained attention through social media discussions. Recently, it has been linked to political matters and has become a symbol.

The popularity of Marcy has surged, spreading beyond Jumla. The rice’s name is now recognized across Nepal’s capital city. Marcy has become a significant topic in newspapers, radio, television, and even cartoons. Due to its recent media coverage, the demand for Marcy rice has risen considerably. This traditional rice variety has found renewed popularity in the market, competing with other types of rice.

As the demand grows, people are even ordering Marcy rice from Jumla. The rice is praised for its taste and quality. However, limited production has led to increased prices due to high demand. Supermarkets are also purchasing large quantities of Marcy rice. The unique attributes of Marcy rice have captured the attention of people across Nepal.