Rice genome saviour from Wayanad bags national recognition

Government pats Cheruvayal Raman for his efforts on conserving rice seeds which are fast vanishing

KOZHIKODE: Cheruvayal Raman, the farmer from Kurichya tribe known for his collection of over 45 varieties of rice seeds, has bagged the ‘Genome Saviour Award’ of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPV&FRA), Government of India. He received the award for his lifelong efforts for the conservation of rice seeds vanishing fast.A native of Kammana village of Mananthavady panchayat, he is conserving trees, herbs, medicinal plants and spices in the five acres of his ancestral property apart from rice.

“Rice is an important part of a Wayanadan farmer’s life, and it is deeply rooted in our culture and traditions. For many of our rituals, rice seeds take an important part. However, many varieties of rice seeds disappeared over the time, which prompted me to conserve since 2004,” said Mr Raman. “To get some varieties, I had even travelled for many days on end, and I'm cultivating each variety in five cents. After hearing about my collection, people and collectives use to come from faraway places to enquire and take seeds. I gave them free but with on a condition- next year they return the same amount of seeds after cultivating.”

Cheruvayal RamanCheruvayal Raman

He became a full-time farmer after his uncle advised him to resign as a hospital warden, a job he got in 1969. While many of the Kurichya joint families are quitting traditional rice varieties, he and his family protects these seeds as a treasure for next generation and has also established a network of farmers through an informal seed distribution mechanism. Every year, he receives visitors including students, researchers and farmers from across the globe and is also taking classes on the importance of genome conservation at conventions.

“My visitors’ diary has completed 600 pages now,” he says. Mr Raman and his wife Geetha received the award from Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh. He also donated 30 varieties of seeds to the authorities during the function. “I have also made a request to the government for the farmers of India. I will reveal it once it gets approved,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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