Khao Kai Noy (Little Chick Rice)

Khao Kai Noy (Little Chick Rice) is quite fragrant. It is delicious, full of vitamins and healthy.

Rice Planting

Khao Kai Noy is famous because of its good smell and taste and it can be planted only in the northern provinces of Laos.
The husk of Khao Kai Noy is black and yellow. It has a very good smell; and this smell lasts for almost three years.

Farmers believe that Khao Kai Noy is healthier than other rice. It also yields a higher quantity when steamed e.g. 1 kilo of polished rice gives 1,3 kilo of cooked rice.

According to a book on Khao Kai Noy in Xiengkhuang Province of the Native Product Project under the Institute of Agriculture and Forestry Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, January 2008, with financial support from AFD of France, and based on an interview with Mr Bouasone Souvanthong, Chief of Ou village and also Head of Khao Kai Noy production group of Phoukhoune District of Xiengkhuang province, traditional Khao Kai Noy reportedly has a history spanning three generations (about 210 years). As a young child, a person helped their parents to plant this rice, and the rice has been planted continuously until this day.

There are three types of seeds of traditional & famous Khao Kai Noy i.e. Yellow Khao Kai Noy, Black Striped Khao Kai Noy and Red Khao Kai Noy.

The three types are used in four districts representing 70% of productive areas of more than 3,800 hectares basing on the survey of PEIG (2007 statistics). The three types are different from each other in terms of seed form, seed color, seed quality, smell, productivity and other aspects such as: high quality of rice, high productivity, non-husked rice gives 75-80% of polished rice, good taste, softness, good smell, preference in local market as well as export market.

Special characteristics of the Black Stripped Khao Kai Noy are that when polished, it is yellow and is quite fragrant; when steamed, it is very fragrant and is not too sweet.

For the White/Yellow Khao Kai Noy, when polished, it is white; and when steamed, it has very good smell. For the Red Khao Kai Noy, when polished, it is white and has very light smell; and when steamed, its smell is also very light. Hence, the Red is not popular for the plantation which represents 5% only, while the White/Yellow represents 80%.

The reasons why local people within provinces and adjacent provinces, as well as some foreigners like to consume Khao Kai Noy are because of its good smell, and its soft texture that does not stick on the hands like glue or flour and water.


Origin of Khao Kai Noy

Some farmers believe that Khao Kai Noy originated from Houaphanh Province because restaurants in Houaphanh province often serve such rice and villages in Houaphanh Province have cultivated Khao Kai Noy since 1945. It was reported that the rice came from Lao-Vietnam border, and in 1951 it was named “Khao Kai Noy”.

A Vietnamese person said that Vietnamese traders buy a lot of Khao Kai Noy, especially during Vietnamese New Year. Vietnamese people use Khao Kai Noy to make a cake locally called Banhchung.

The name “Khao Kai Noy” has nothing to do with its cultivation area, but its small type of grain. Some people believe that its name is based on the fact that it can be fed to little chicks without first crushing it into smaller pieces. Some other people believe that its name is derived from the fact that when it is husked, it is broken into smaller pieces that can be fed to little chicks.

Currently, Khao Kai Noy is popular among Lao ethnic people countrywide. 500 tonnes of the rice is exported to Vietnam  every year (based on the data provided by Cultivation Division of Xiengkhuang Department of Agriculture and Forestry, September 2013). It is also exported to Japan & France.

The Lao Farmers’ Product Company is a private company working with production groups in many regions of the country. The company has exported Khao Kai Noy to countries in Europe since 2006 under the trademark “Ethiquable” and brand name in French “Riz petit poussin du Laos” which is literally translated from the Lao;  “Khao Kai Noy from Laos”.


Area and method of cultivation of Khao Kai Noy

The Khao Kay Noy plant is short and does not need much water because its roots are strong. The grain is attached very well to the plant, so it is resistant to strong wind and produces well. However, as it has a longer life cycle, it cannot be planted two seasons per year.

Khao Kai Noy is appropriate for cultivation in the weather of Xiengkhuan plain. Four districts representing 80% of production are: Paek District, Khoun District, Phaxay District and Phoukoud District. The average yield is four tonnes per hectare.

In these four districts, the weather is cool in the dry season (from October to February) with minimum temperatures of 15,5°C, maximum temperature of 26,9°C, and the average temperature of 21,2°C. During the rainy season, the average rainfall is 1,691.8 mm with 70% humidity. This region is 800 to 1,100 meter above sea level.

The method of cultivation is not different from other varieties of rice. Seeds are prepared in an area that was turned over and mixed with dung. When the rice seed is 30-35 years old, it can be removed from the preparation area to the cultivation area. 4-5 rice seeds are planted in one hole, and each hole has a distance of 20×25 centimeters from the other. The plantation mostly starts from May and the harvest starts from October to November.

Fertilizer should be dung, green fertilizer, and fermented fertilizer that can be found in farmers’ households and gardens. This saves money and is environmentally friendly.

Now, after knowing a bit more about Khao Kai Noy, you can try it because it is good for health and it is a bio-product. This is also a domestically produced product, so it will contribute to farmers’ incomes and encourage them to transform agricultural production into commercial production in line with the industrialization and modernization directive of the Lao Party and government, with the aim of graduating from least developed country status by 2020.

Khao Kai Noy


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Target MagazineRe-published with permission of Target Magazine. See original article on Facebook here.


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