Monthly Archives: May 2016

Striking gold with pearl spot

Sunil Kumar (left) owns scores of netted enclosures at Thanimoodu in Thiruvananthapuram.
Sunil Kumar (left) owns scores of netted enclosures at Thanimoodu in Thiruvananthapuram.

Story of a national award-winning farmer’s success and travails

Lying wakeful at night is one of the fallouts of five years of farming fish, says Sunil Kumar, 43.

The national award-winning farmer owns scores of netted enclosures along the bank of the expansive backwater lagoon at Thannimoodu in suburban Thiruvananthapuram. Year-round, they abound with pearl spot, a pricey fish widely considered a delicacy. It sells for Rs.500 and above a kg.

The bounty attracts raiders at night. Certain lawlessness exists along Kerala’s maze of inland waterways and lagoons and Thannimoodu is no exception.

Marine patrols are unheard of and farmers like Mr. Kumar are left to fend for themselves. They maintain solitary night vigils to protect their farms from raiding boatmen. Local goons who demand protection money are also a thorny problem.

Mr. Kumar’s quest for self-employment had prompted the matriculate to attempt fish farming in 2010. His first shot at shrimp cultivation failed. But with pearl spot, Mr. Kumar struck gold.

Peak daily sales often touched Rs.15,000. He was able to keep his family of the breadline.

Traditional knowledge

Most of Mr. Kumar’s farming knowledge comes from anglers and traditional fishermen. They helped him devise the porous netted enclosures that allow tidal flushing, but keep natural predators out.

Tortoises, eels, catfish, rat snakes prey on pearl spot fingerlings. Top nets protect the corralled fish from predatory birds.

Mr. Kumar regularly traverses the lagoon with experienced fishermen to net healthy pearl spot pairs for controlled breeding.

“The male burrows into the lagoon bed to make holes for the female to deposit her eggs while she hovers around. They often breed close to the shore,” he says. Adult pearl spots are paired off in hatcheries, which simulate the lagoon environment.

Mr. Sunil is thankful to the Kerala Fisheries Department for its support. However, like other farmers, he faces the issue of land availability. The lease of his three acre farm is set to expire soon and he is scouting for a new place to relocate it.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / G. Anand / Thiruvananthapuram – May 30th, 2016

Devadasi’ system continues to exist despite ban: Book

Thiruvananthapuram :

The banned ‘devadasi’ system, in which women are dedicated in local temples for the service of the deity and later allegedly forced into sex trade, still exists in many parts of India, according to a new book. “Visudha Papangalude India” (India:The Land of Holy Sins), a Malayalam book which will hit the bookstores soon, says many of the ‘devadasis’ are forced into flesh trade to earn their daily bread as they are denied a normal family life.

Journalist-turned-writer Arun Ezhuthachan unveils in the book, the plight and painful struggle of marginalised women, including ‘devadasis’, who are subjected to various kinds of exploitation in the name of rituals and religious practices. “We talk about various kinds of exploitation and harassment against women. But the problems of marginalised groups like devadasis are different,” Arun said. “It is really shocking to know that women are exploited in the name of centuries-old rituals and religious customs even now, in this 21st century.

The painful saga of widows of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, who are destined to live as Lord Krishna’s beloved Radha, is also not different,” he said.

The book, published by DC books, also throws light into the life and problems faced by sex workers in redlight areas in the country, including Kamathipura and Sonagachi.

The interview with some of the widows of Vrindavan, who reach the temple town after being ostracised by their families and society, gives a grim picture about the life of marginalised women in the modern India.

“As per law books, the devadasi system is not in practice anywhere in the country and it was banned by law in all states in different periods. But I met a number of young women who had been dedicated to deities in recent times in rural villages of states like Karnataka,” Arun, a reporter with Malayala Manorama daily, said.

As they were not allowed to marry anybody or led a normal family life, many of them were forced to turn to flesh trade either in their own villages or in red light areas in cities, he said.

According to the book, as per official figures, as many as 46,000 former devadasis have been identified in Karnataka alone, adding, they are getting a meagre pension of Rs 500 per month.(MORE) LGK JRK BN DV

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Thiruvananthapuram / PTI / May 29th, 2016

Now, chicken soup to power your car

John Abraham of KVASU at the biodiesel plant set up on the premises of the Veterinary College at Pookode in Wayanad district.— PHOTO: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
John Abraham of KVASU at the biodiesel plant set up on the premises of the Veterinary College at Pookode in Wayanad district.— PHOTO: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A team of researchers of KVASU extract biodiesel from the wastes of slaughtered broiler chicken

Horsepower will stay, but the humble chicken may actually power your car, if a technology model developed at the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) in Wayanad gets scaled up to viable commercial production.

For the last one year, a team of researchers led by John Abraham of the university’s School of Bioenergy and Farm Waste Management (SBFWM) have been quietly extracting biodiesel from the wastes of slaughtered broiler chicken, in a small Rs.12-lakh prototype plant.


For several months now, they have been field-testing this chicken-based fuel in their university’s old multi-utility vehicle (MUV), which goes all over the hill district. The team has applied for a patent on it on behalf of the KVASU, which is pending. The KVASU intends to play the role of technology provider.

The researchers have also run their biodiesel through tests at the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL)’s quality control laboratory at its Kochi refinery. They said the tests confirmed that the fuel conformed to exacting BIS standards. Besides, the chicken-sourced biodiesel was also found to have a commendably higher cetane value of 72, as compared to 64 of petro-diesel, which means better efficiency, Dr. John added. It is relatively cheaper too. Even without economies of scale, the small pilot plant incurs a production cost of just around Rs.32 per litre for this fuel (while petro diesel costs Rs.55 or more). At the trial stage, it is being used at 50:50 ratio with petro diesel in normal, unmodified, diesel engines. But it could be used as the sole fuel with some engine modifications, Dr. John said.

With word trickling out, several innovative entrepreneurs, including registered slaughter waste collectors in the neighbouring Kozhikode Corporation, have approached the team for tapping the idea’s commercial potential. The team has already provided a project report for a plant for a consortium, which will be capable of processing up to 40 tonnes of slaughter waste and generating about 1,000 litres of chicken fuel a day. This project is to come up with the collaboration of the Kozhikode Corporation and the District Suchitwa Mission there.

Dr. John, whose doctoral thesis at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in 2012 was on alternate fuels, said chicken-powered biodiesel had great potential. “In Kerala alone, about 5.3 lakh chicken are slaughtered daily. This means some 350 tonnes of slaughter waste every day, which pose a catastrophic threat to the environment.”

“If this waste is cooked at very high temperatures, 10 per cent of the volume turns extractable oil, another 30 per cent gets converted to animal and pet feed ingredients with 62 per cent protein content that costs a mere Rs.20 per kg to produce,” he said. Almost 96 per cent of this oil could be converted into biodiesel, while a small portion turned into glycerine, which could be used for making soaps and cosmetics, he added. About 10 kilograms of chicken wastes yield one litre of oil, on an average.

But why only chicken waste and not mutton or beef slaughter waste, when these have an equally huge availability in the State? “All ruminants have bio-hydrogenation pathways which saturate fats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. But mono-gastric animals like chicken lack this pathway. Hence, more unsaturated fatty acids are available in their fats, which turn to oil at room temperature. Biodiesel can only be made from such oils,” Dr. John said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by E.M. Manoj / Kalpetta – May 29th, 2016

Fashion design students display their skills

Design skills:Students of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kannur, holding an exhibition as part of the Graduation Show 2016 at Mangattuparambain Kannur on Thursday.– PHOTO: S.K. MOHAN
Design skills:Students of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kannur, holding an exhibition as part of the Graduation Show 2016 at Mangattuparambain Kannur on Thursday.– PHOTO: S.K. MOHAN

The campus of the National Institute of Fashion Technology-Kannur (NIFT-Kannur) has turned into a venue for the display of a large collection of thematic creative textile design products its students have done as part of their graduation project.

The exhibition showcases all the graduation projects and design collections of students of Master’s of Design, Fashion Management and Bachelor’s of Textile Design, Fashion Technology and Knitwear Design. The project works of 87 students of the institute are being showcased at the two-day exhibition that began on Thursday.

Among the items being displayed include apparel and home furnishing works and application of academic inputs for industry. Also displayed were some handicrafts products designed by the students.

Fashion trends

“The works being displayed feature the fashion design skills of our students and their application of latest technologies in the field,” said NIFT-Kannur Joint Director G. Ramesh Babu.

The collections are based on trend forecasts in the fashion world, he added.

A.G. Rao, Professor Emeritus, Industrial Design Centre, IIT-Mumbai, inaugurated the graduation ceremony.

The inauguration was followed by graduation award presentation and design collection fashion show by Knitwear graduating students of the institute.

source: http:// / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Kannur – May 28th, 2016

NABARD’s lead farm project launched at KVK, Peruvannamuzhi

Kozhikode :

ICAR Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Peruvannamuzhi launched Lead Enthusiastic Agriculture to Develop (LEAD) aided by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) here the other day.

The scheme envisages demonstrating latest production technologies of spices and vegetables in KVK farm using its technical support. Under the scheme, KVK will work as an Agriculture Incubation Center for farmers, who are ready to venture into scientific cultivation practices. A sum of Rs 7.30 lakh budget outlay has already been earmarked for the project execution.

A meeting of the beneficiaries of the project selected from different parts of Perambra block was held at KVK, where an action plan was prepared for the upcoming season.

Dr P Rathakrishnan, Programme Co-ordinator of ICAR-KVK , Peruvannamuzhi, during the interaction elaborated about the objectives of the project to participants and underlined that the project will help the farmers to gain confidence in adopting proven technologies evolved at research stations on a wider scale. He also added that the field areas of KVK will be used by them to showcase the recent technologies in vegetable and ginger cultivation.

Dr P S Manoj, SMS (Horticulture) and PI of the project also interacted with the participants to clear their doubts about the adoption of technology in farming.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kozhikode / Sreedevi Chitharanjani, TNN / May 27th, 2016

Hundreds take part in rare Vaishnavite ritual at Old Thirumala

Kashi Mutt chief Samyamindra Thirtha performing thapta mudra dharana ritual at Sri Venkatachalapathy temple, Old Thirumala, Alappuzha, on Wednesday | Express Photo Service
Kashi Mutt chief Samyamindra Thirtha performing thapta mudra dharana ritual at Sri Venkatachalapathy temple, Old Thirumala, Alappuzha, on Wednesday | Express Photo Service


Alappuzha  :

Kashi mutt chief Samyamindra Thirtha led the ‘thapta mudra dharana’, a rare ritual of the Vaishnavite sect of Brahmins, at Sri Venkatachalapathy temple, Old Thirumala, here, on Wednesday. The seer has reached the temple as part of a four-day camp organised by the Gowda Saraswath Brahmin community.

“Special Vedic hymns were chanted as part of the ritual, which is supposed to purify the body and soul of the participants and thus help them lead a pious life. Impressions of sacred symbols like ‘sankha’(sacred conch) and ‘chakra’ (sacred circle) were made on the bodies of devotees using heated ‘pancha loha’(made of 5 metals) mudras,” said a priest of the GSB Sabha.

Besides, ‘sahasradeepalankara seva’ (festival of thousand lights) was also held.  Sri Venkatachalapathy temple is the only place in the state which conducts this ritual. The seer also addressed the youths at a function organised by the Samyuktha Grama Sabha.  Prizes and study materials were distributed to those who have passed various examinations and competitions with flying colours.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / May 26th, 2016

Thirunelly seed fete begins tomorrow

Thirunelly seed fete , a seed festival organised jointly by the Thirunelly grama panchayat, Save our Rice campaign, Thanal, Kudumbasree Mission, ATMA and NABARD, will be held at the weekly market of the Kudumbasree at Kattikulam on Friday and Saturday.

O.R. Kelu, MLA, will inaugurate the programme at 10 a. m. on Friday. The two-day programme is aimed at sensitizing the farming community to the significance of conserving traditional seeds of paddy, vegetables and tuber crops, the organisers said in a release here .

Various programmes, including a seminar on organic farming practices and on ground challenges, exhibition-cum-sharing of close to 200 varieties of paddy seeds, 60 varieties of vegetables and tuber crops and a food festival of the Kudumbasree Mission will also be held.

source: / The Hindu / HOme> National> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kalpetta – May 26th, 2016

Arya Premji no more

Thiruvananthapuram :

Arya Premji, wife of social reformer the late M P Bhattathiripad (Premji) was laid to rest here on Monday.

Arya Premji, 99, died at her son, senior journalist Neelan’s residence here on Sunday. Her body was cremated at the Santhikavadam on Monday evening.

Arya and Premji were part of the state’s renaissance history for being the second couple in the Namboodiri community to engage in widow marriage.

Arya was born to Neelakandan Namboodiri and Umadevi Antharjanam of Karuvattu Mana at Anthikkad in Thrissur in 1917.

She got married at the age of 14 but became a widow a year after. Premji married her when she was 27.

Premji, then a proof reader with ‘Desabhimani’ daily, had triggered a debate in the community by marrying a widow, which eventually resulted in the community ostracising them.

Arya Premji was elected to the Thrissur municipal council as a Communist party candidate in 1964.

She is survived by sons M P Neelakandan (Neelan), Hareendranathan, retired Colonel Induchoodan, daughter Sathi, in-laws Santha, Leela, Varada and Parvathy. Her son KPAC Premachandran had predeceased her.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / May 24th, 2016

Chef Senthil Raj bags laurels

Kochi :

The three-day HotelTech, Kerala’s premier hospitality equipment exhibition, and Kerala Culinary Challenge, which witnessed over 3,200 footfalls, concluded at Samudrika Convention Centre, Willingdon Island.

Senthil Raj from Holiday Inn, Kochi, who bagged the award for the outstanding performer, will represent India at Hotel Asia, a premier event to be held in the Maldives in September that will feature 1,000 chefs vying for the honours.Hotel Leela bagged the award in the best culinary establishment category on the basis of the competitions held at the event. And competitions were organised for chefs from star hotels across the state. As many as 85 chefs from 30 star hotels participated in the competitions and the winners were chosen by a five-member panel. At the event, the chefs decided to launch Kerala Chefs’ Forum and provide free training to 100 students as part of the corporate social responsibility(CSR).

According to the organisers, it was decided to launch a forum for the chefs since no such forum existed at present, unlike in several other states where such forums exist. The forum will cater to the various needs of chefs and provide training to them. As for the decision to provide free training in the hospitality sector, 100 students from under-privileged families, who have passed Class X, will be selected and provided training through tie-up with various hotels in the state.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / May 26th, 2016

Kamukara award presented

The 20th Kamukara Foundation award was presented to playback singer P. Madhuri at a function at the University Senate Hall here on Sunday.

Actor Madhu presented the award in memory of yesteryear playback singer Kamukara Purushothaman. The award consists of a sculpture and citation.

Madhu said that Kamukara was a singer who had sung far less number of songs compared to other singers, but each one of them had a unique quality.

“Much before I had a chance to meet him, I had fallen in love with one of his songs Aathmavidhyalayame from Harishchandra .

I used to listen to them endlessly, imagining the visuals.

Later, I had the luck of acting out one of his songs, Ekandhathayude apaara theeram , which remains one of my favourites. It is such a powerful song and I had so much trouble lip-syncing that song. I feel blessed to have got a chance to act out his songs,” he said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Staff Reporter / Thiruvananthapuram – May 23rd, 2016