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Kerala’s plantation sector headed for turmoil

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Thiruvananthapuram: Mounting costs of producing tea, rubber, cardamom and coffee and the low prices the yield fetches is severely affecting the plantation sector in Kerala, an official of the planters’ organisation said on Wednesday.

B.K. Ajith, secretary of the Association of Planters Kerala (APK) – an umbrella organization of planters of tea, rubber, cardamom and coffee – said the plantation sector can go haywire in two months.

The group represents about 60 percent of the organised plantation sector in the state.

Kerala today accounts for 82 percent of the country’s rubber production, 71 percent of cardamom, six percent of the tea and 21 percent of the coffee.

The daily wages of more than three lakh plantation workers, who ended their three week-long strike early this month, were increased recently.

But Ajith hinted at other factors which lead to an increase in the production costs.

The production costs of cardamom stands at Rs.700 a kg, while the market price of a kilogram of cardamom is Rs.620, he said.

“Coffee planters in Kerala are going to be seriously affected as production in Brazil has reached much higher levels. There has been a currency devaluation as well. Thus, all cash crops in Kerala will be seriously affected,” added Ajith.

APK officials are also peeved that their long standing demands for reducing the plantation, agricultural and land taxes have fallen on deaf ears.

While Tamil Nadu levies no taxes in the plantation sector, Kerala charges Rs.700 a hectare as plantation tax. The agriculture income tax is 50 percent of the profits, while in other states it is 28 percent. The land tax here is Rs.500 a hectare, Ajith complained.

Similarly, the electricity tariff was increased for the plantation sector last year, he said.

“If something drastic does not happen, things will come to a halt very soon,” said Ajith.

(IANS)

 

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Your Genes Determine You As a Tea or Coffee Person

"The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol," Cornelis said

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Representational image.
Your genes make you tea or coffee lover: Study. Pixabay

Are you a tea or coffee person? The answer may lie in your genetic predisposition towards bitter tastes, say researchers.

It could be because bitterness acts as a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances.

The study, led by researchers from US-based Northwestern University, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, explored reactions to three bitter substances — caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil (PROP) — to understand how they affect people’s preference for drinking tea, coffee and alcohol.

The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it”.

“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

tea
The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. Pixabay

“The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP — a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables — avoid coffee.

For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

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“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.

Scientists applied Mendelian randomisation — a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology — to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 4,00,000 men and women in the UK. (IANS)