Traditional farmers have been following old cultivation methods handed down the generations even in the face of financial loss. Cheruvayal Raman, a native of Kammana in Edavaka, has been preserving ethnic varieties of paddy seeds for decades so that such farming practices continue.
Raman, a member of the Kurichya tribal community, could raise the importance of traditional farm practices at a global meet recently. This guardian of traditional paddy varieties of Wayanad was India’s voice at the International Traditional Science Congress held in Brazil. A member of the general council of Kerala Agricultural University, Raman is also part of the biodiversity panel of the local panchayat.
Raman spoke about the relevance of protecting traditional paddy at the Congress held in Belem, a city on the banks of the Amazon river. The presentations at the event had attracted attention around the world. Titled Belem proclamation, the suggestions were subjected to a thorough discussion. The innumerable tribes living in various parts of the world, traditional healing knowledge and the interdependence of tribes were examined in an indepth manner. A resolution dealt with the lifestyle of indigenous tribal populace, their dependence on natural produce and the research into scientific, social and fundamental aspects.
The meet also became a venue to discuss the plight of people forced to leave their native land. It called for using natural produce and knowledge passed down generations. The Belem proclamation soon became an international reference standard.
The theme of the 30th meet held this year was protecting the rights of tribal people and preserving biodiversity. With change sweeping the world, the meet analysed the importance of the proclamation and traditional bioscience.
Around 2,000 delegates belonging to tribal communities attended the event. Folk performances from various countries were also staged. The event also provided a venue for tribes from around the world to meet together.
The first Traditional Science Congress was held in 1988. The Brazil meet was organised by the Federal University of Pará. Brazilian Society of Entobiology also partnered with the event that was held from August 7 to 10.
Raman cultivates over 65 varieties of paddy indigenous to Wayanad in his own land. However, such crops are on the verge of extinction. Raman has dedicated his life for preserving bioheritage.
He reached Brazil, via Dubai, from Nedumbassery airport. He had earlier represented India at the biodiversity meet involving 11 countries hosted by Hyderabad in 2011. Dr Shaji Thomas, a faculty member at the Paramedical University, helps Raman in his efforts.
Also attending the Congress from India was Jay Sreekumar, an anthropologist.