The Paro Valley, Bhutan
Throughout history, the Kingdom of Bhutan has been known by many names, including "The Southern Land of Darkness" and "The Land of the Thunder Dragon." Often considered "the last Shangri-la," this remote and mystical kingdom was largely isolated from the rest of the world until the 1960s. The guiding philosophy of the nation is encapsulated by their concern for their GNH – Gross National Happiness. To this end, Bhutan has tried to moderate its interactions with the outside world, hoping to integrate the best of modernity while keeping safe their cultural heritage.
Symbolic of this intention to bridge the modern and ancient worlds, the Paro Valley is home to Bhutan's only airport, as well as some of its holiest sites. Legend has it that the father of the Bhutanese sect of Mahayana Buddhism arrived in the Paro Valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a tigress. He meditated for three months in a cave where a monastery, called Tiger's Nest, was built and remains to this day.
The Paro Valley is also known for its stunning rice paddies cascading down steep mountainsides. Here is where Bhutanese Red Rice has been grown for thousands of years. Pristine glacier water rich in trace minerals irrigates these rice fields. This rare variety of rice is found only in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Uniquely adapted to high altitude conditions and fed by the fertile soils and mineral-rich waters of the region, Bhutanese Red Rice is a highly nutritious rice. With its complex earthy and nutty flavor, this rice is a staple food of the Bhutanese people.
Sadly, in the early 90's, heirloom red rice cultivation was declining due to the import of white rice from India. We have worked closely with our suppliers to give Bhutanese farmers access to a global marketplace. Ensuring this new source of livelihood means that this beautiful and wholesome rice is now safe from extinction and will be feeding families there, and here, for a long time to come. Although presently, the rice does not have organic certification, Bhutanese Red Rice has been grown without the use of pesticides or other chemical inputs for centuries. With last year's first ever democratic elections a new Minister of Agriculture has been named and we are looking forward to working with him to develop a rice certifying program.
We are honored to be the first company since 1994, to export from Bhutan — in fact Bhutanese Red Rice is the only product exported from the land of the Thunder Dragon.