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The Saviour of Genome Diversity of TUBERS from Wayanad, Kerala

Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Shaji .N.M.

Shaji .N.M. from Wayanad has been engaged in the protection of tuber varieties from a very long time.He has been in the forefront in collecting many indigenous varieties from the tribes  and collecting information about them and saviouring them for the future. The Covid slowed down all activities and farming also says Shaji speaking to the Editor,Dr Lakshmi Unnithan, Agriculture World at the Tuber Mela.

The Tuber world is an enchanting world says Shaji. When we speak of tubers we only see them as Underground but many of them have aerial tubers as well. Conserving the biodiversity along with the farming activities is a tough job says Shaji. We had a very interesting talk regarding the names of the Tubers and Roots he has brought from Wayanad in his Jeep. There were around 120 of them which he has harvested and brought along.

Neela Kachil
Neela Kachil

His ancestors had a huge collection of Tubers and his collection boasts of some of them dating back to those years. His Forefathers used to work for the landlords and couldn’t afford to have rice aka paddy and their staple food was naturally tubers. The Very important of them being Noorumeni Kachil, a very precious one in terms of nutrients, antioxidants and hence anticancerous.

Erachi kachil gets its name because it smells meat like. Quintal Kachil gets its name from its heavy weight of its tuber which measures almost near to a quintal He also reiterates the fact that it was consumption of tubers that helped his forefathers live long and healthy.

Erachi Kachil
Erachi Kachil

His collection of rare tubers includes varieties like Nuroo, Arikelang, Nana Chembu,Kannan Chembu, Nadan Chembu, Kavala Kizhangu, Naro Pullathi, Chore Kachil, Gandhakasala Kachil, Kappa Kachil, Choriyan Chemb and Makkal Pothi Chemb etc. He also showed us the Yambion Fruit and the Elephant yam which has aerial tubers as well as is much treasured.

The Genome Saviour Award brought him much-needed recognition. Students, farmers and scientists are always welcome to visit his one and a half acre farm. From calling him a lunatic to getting appreciated for his work has taken him long says Shaji.

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