The 150-year-old house made up of clay and soil in Wayanad will have pieces of history to share. The legacy of this house boasts of a few generations of farmers who battled the soil and nature and reaped a golden harvest. The present resident at this house is Cheruvayal Raman, popularly known as Ramettan among the people of Wayanad.
Ramettan, aged 70, belongs to the Kurichya tribal community of Wayanad. He is known to the world as the preserver of a variety of rare seeds. Now, Ramettan’s relentless efforts to protect and preserve the natural seeds have been honoured by the nation with a Padmasree award.
Ramettan uses 52 rare and indigenous seed varieties for his farming. Despite incurring financial losses, he was not ready to use other hybrid seeds for agriculture. Many reach Ramettan’s house to know and learn about the tested farming methods and approaches.
The walls of Ramettan’s house are built up of a mixture of clay soil, hay and cane. The roofing is made of bamboo and rosewood. Ramettan says this house would withstand any natural calamity of high magnitude.
According to Ramettan, in the olden days, people used to soak ‘solid’ bamboo (locally known as Kallan Mula) poles in water for about a month and later slightly show it in the fire to make it stronger. After this process, the bamboo would be as strong as iron. It is said, nothing would happen to these naturally treated bamboos even after 500 years. However hot the summer is, the interior of this house remains cool.
Ramaettan recollects that he started working on the soil at the age of 10. He began agriculture on the 40-acre land passed on to him by his uncle. He says, he took farming seriously only from 1969.
As time progressed, hybrid and genetically modified seeds became the trend in farming. Nevertheless, Ramettan stuck to his old seed varieties and never ventured to farm with GM and hybrid seeds.
He practised his style of traditional farming methods, naturally preserving the seed varieties. He preserves the seeds after each harvest season and sows the same for the next crop.
Ramettan has been an organic farmer in the complete sense of the term, even before we became familiar with the term ‘organic’ in connection with farming.