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This uncle-nephew duo is sowing seeds of preservation in Kerala

Adoor-native Santhosh G and his nephew Manulal S are on a mission to preserve indigenous tree varieties

Published: 20th May 2022 06:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2022 04:35 PM   |  A+A-

Recumbent model bicycle

Manulal on his Recumbent model bicycle.(Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

KOCHI: These days, plants indigenous to Kerala — medicinal, fruit-bearing or homestead varieties — are not very easy to find, especially if you live in the city. Unsustainable extraction from the wild and unscientific cultivation methods have endangered many tree varieties across the country. Adoor-native Santhosh G, popularly known as Sila Santhosh, and his nephew Manulal S are now in the process of saving such varieties.

Santhosh G

Manulal, 26, is now going on an all-India expedition to distribute such rare seeds. For the last 14 years, Sila has been growing local plant species like kulamaavu, kaanjiram, kadukka, papaya, aanjili, plantains, turmeric, and others on 17 cents of land surrounding his house.  Apart from 1,300 varieties of medicinal plants and 140 seeds, his residence, also called as Sila Museum, accommodates over 2,500 antique collections, including currencies, newspapers, weapons, and others.

“When we realised how hard it is to spot native varieties of fruits and vegetables, we had the idea to preserve them. I want to distribute seeds that grow in respective climate conditions free of cost. Simultaneously, we will also source indigenous seeds found in specific areas and grow them in our region. The idea is to help these varieties sustain. Even if they are wiped out of one place, they can grow in another,” says Santhosh.

Seeds of lentils, legume, papaya, five varieties of mango, Ashokam, Kambakam, kulamaavu, and over 50 varieties of rice including mula ari, taanni, kadukka, and others will be distributed during the expedition. “We expect positive results from this initiative and want it to keep going. We will distribute the seeds only to farmers or those who genuinely want to preserve them. Otherwise, it makes no sense,” says Santhosh. 
Santhosh claims to have contact with farmers across the country. “Our acquaintances are alerted when Manulal reaches the place. Through them, the seeds will reach the right hands,” adds Santhosh.

On-road adventure

Manulal travelled across south India last year. Now, he is excited to travel around on his Recumbent model bicycle.

“Though I used to cycle before, riding a bike became an integral part of my life during the lockdown. Those were the times when Kerala saw a surge in bicycle riders. Though many people abandoned their cycles when things got back to normal, I didn’t,” says the IT graduate.

The Recumbent model, which is more prominent in the US and Germany, has pedals in the front. “I haven’t seen this anywhere in India,” says Manulal.

Santhosh got the cycle modelled in Ernakulam with the help of his friend Venu. “The cycle is sure to turn heads when I ride it. This would fetch more attention for our green cause,” says Santhosh.

The self-designed vehicle has a small front tyre and a back tyre of size 26. “I cycled once from Ernakulam to Adoor. It is normal to wonder if it would be comfortable. Even I was apprehensive at first. But I found it to be more comfortable than normal cycles,” says Manulal. 

The youngster will start his journey soon. “At first, Manulal will be covering the whole of south India. Once he returns, he will set off to explore three states at a time. We expect to finish the expedition in two years,” says Santhosh.



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