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The Preserver Of the Great Agricultural Tradition Of Wayanad: Cheruvayal Raman

It is a blessing to live amidst the beauty of nature. Introducing the story of a true native of Cheruvayal, Wayanad, who always wanted to live in the lap of mother earth without the comforts of today. He is taking advantage of a life nourished by the natural breeze and the fragrant soil, hanging onto his rich tradition and guarding the “treasures” of the region.

One cannot imagine the life of this 70-year-old man, who is the guardian of the extensive Kurichya tradition and the rare seed collection. The “Nellachhan” of Wayanad, Cheruvayal K. Raman, has dedicated his life to preserving traditional rice crops.

The “Nellachhan” of Wayanad: Cheruvayal K. Raman

Great Tradition

Cheruvayal Raman is a descendant of the great warrior Thalakkal Chantu who waged guerilla war against the British to help Pazhassi Raja, the Maharaja of the Kottayam dynasty. The Kurichya tribe of Wayanad is also known for their eco-friendly agricultural practices and matriarchal tradition.

Treasures Of Wayanad

He grows several native rice types, including Gandhakasala, Jeerakasala, Kunkumasali, Chottuveliyan, Rakthashali, Kanakam, and Kurumbali. Raman also keeps traditional seed harvesting and storage instruments like the Pathayam, wooden Para, Thumba, and Kutta in good condition.

 He has dedicated his life to preserving traditional rice crops

A True Guardian

About 55 indigenous rice varieties that are on the verge of extinction have been cultivated organically by Raman. He travelled to the entire part of Wayanad for several years and made a “seed collection”. These seeds are still cultivated in his fields. All types of paddy are grown on one and a half acres of land for subsistence. Raman gives these seeds without any cost to anyone interested in cultivating the native variety, on the condition that they would return him the same amount after harvesting.

Unique Mud House

The luxuries of today had no impact on him. Raman still lives in a 150-year-old mud house with a roof constructed of fine bamboo and straw. He had to pay a large quantity of money every year to maintain it. Even aware of the concrete houses, he would still want to live in this house. He believes that his home will strengthen his immunity power. Many architectural students came to his home to study more about his mud home.

Trees are a boon to us

Much of Raman’s property is covered with giant trees. According to him, they are the actual sources of oxygen and freshness to the environment. Therefore, we have to preserve them.


He doesn’t use chemical pesticides or fertilisers and solely plants native seed kinds. He cultivates 55 varieties a year to keep them alive. He cultivates 6 acres of land including three acres of paddy fields. He farms 1.5 acres of the plot for personal purposes, while the remaining area is used to save seeds. He invests only a cent or two for each seed.

Cheruvayal Raman at the Tenth Vibgyor Film Festival function


He participated as India’s representative at the Tribal Congress in Brazil in 2018 and represented the farmers of Kerala at the International Conference on Biodiversity Conservation in Hyderabad in 2011. In addition, Raman has received various honours such as the Genome Savior Award from the Union Ministry of Agriculture. , the Genetic Conservation Award, and most recently, the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour.

Raman was introduced to farming at a young age by his uncle. He did not want to adopt a modern lifestyle and desired to impart a simple, natural way of life to the younger generation. Thus Raman launched a mission to save the vanishing indigenous rice varieties. The Only savings for this farmer, who saw farming as more of a necessary component of his life, are the rice seeds he had kept for his entire life. Agricultural researchers and meteorologists approach Raman for agricultural experiments. With his bare foot on the ground and the seeds in his hands, he stands with enough pride to display his rich cultural heritage.

Credits and References