Cheruvayal Raman Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An award-winning tribal farmer from Kerala known for his effort to conserve indigenous rice varieties in India has been hospitalised in the UAE where he came to popularise organic farming.

Cheruvayal Raman, 69, widely known as the protector of traditional paddy seeds, was rushed to Rashid Hospital in Dubai after he suffered a heart attack on Thursday, the organisers of his trip said.

The barefoot farmer, who has conserved seeds of 47 indigenous varieties of rice, trees, herbs and spices, was scheduled to share his knowledge with a group of nature lovers in Ajman and lead the paddy cultivation project by students at Habitat School on Friday.

“Though he is not formally educated, he is considered as a ‘university’ in this field. We hope that our government and the community members will come forward to support him as he is on visit and doesn’t have insurance,” said a senior member of the organisers.

Though his condition has slightly improved, he said, Raman’s family members could not be flown in to Dubai as none of them has a passport.

The modest farmer had made a passport when he was invited to narrate the story of his gene bank at an international symposium held in Brazil in August.

His 150-year-old straw-thatched ancestral house in the Wayanad district is frequently visited by researchers and students of universities from various countries.

Among various recognitions, Raman had bagged the Indian government’s National Plant Genome Saviour Award in 2016 for his life time efforts for conservation of traditional rice varieties. He has also established a network of farmers through an informal seed distribution mechanism.