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With an attentive eye, Henrique Almeida watches a technician carefully open a hundred cocoa pods, while another worker on the plantation collects samples in bags to check whether the batch conforms to the “South Bahia” geographical indication.
Like famed wines from specific regions in Europe, such as France’s Champagne, the geographical indication (GI) denotes the origin and quality of the cocoa, leading to higher prices that are a boon to farmers who meet the exacting standards.
“The production of fine cocoa and the creation of the geographical indication label make it possible to have a profitable business and pull our region upwards,” Almeida explained.
The 63-year-old comes from a cocoa-growing family that has been farming for three generations. In 2006, he acquired the hundred-year-old Sagarana farm, 148 acres (60 hectares) on a hillside in Coaraci, in the Bahia, Brazil.
Farmers had previously been confined to the production of common cocoa, intended for the chocolate industry.
But after the “witches’ broom” disease in 1989 drastically reduced the productivity of Bahia’s cocoa trees — which provide up to 86 percent of national output — Almeida, like other producers in southern Bahia, chose to improve the quality of his crop in order to be able to continue growing.
“When I bought the farm, standard cocoa prices were low, and cocoa farmers were unmotivated, while the chocolate market was doing well,” he told AFP. “I started growing fine cocoa to make my own chocolate and add value to my product.”
Higher value cocoa
He then established a production method that was longer and more precise than that for common cocoa. After picking and opening the pods and sorting out the quality seeds, he would put them in wooden tubs to ferment for seven to eight days, stirring them every 24 hours to allow the chocolate aroma to develop.
He would then leave the beans to dry in the sun for several days, covering them in case of strong heat or rain.
It has paid off: on average, GI-labeled cocoa costs between 40 to 160 percent more than common cocoa.
Fine cocoa currently makes up almost half of Almeida’s production, and 40 percent of the high-quality beans comply with the specifications for the “South Bahia” GI.
This label is the result of a decade of work by Almeida and other fine cocoa producers, as well as cooperatives and researchers, after they created the South Bahia Cocoa Association (ACSB) to define the production rules.
The National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) registered the GI in 2018.
It is the second GI given to Brazilian cocoa, after the Linhares region in the state of Espirito Santo, which was registered in 2012, and before the Tome-Acu, which was registered at the beginning of 2019.
The South Bahia registration established stricter qualitative criteria.
“We didn’t want a simple certification proving the historical-cultural heritage of cocoa in the region,” said biologist Adriana Reis, a co-founder of the ACSB.
“We wanted to use it to defend the quality of this product and protect the environment and social rights, which would also let us differentiate ourselves.”
In particular, for a batch of cocoa to be a GI candidate, at least 65 percent of the beans must be fully fermented, with a moisture content of less than eight percent and less than three percent of internal defects, such as mold, insects or sprouts.
In order to verify compliance with the rules, farmers send samples to the Center for Cocoa Innovation (CIC), an independent laboratory founded in 2017.
If the results come back positive, the ASCB technicians will run a visual test onsite and send a second sample from the same batch to the lab.
The association also monitors the agro-forestry production system, in order to protect the Atlantic forest in which the cocoa trees grow and to ensure compliance with labor codes.
Since April 2018, 25 farmers have already certified 40 tons of cocoa with the GI, 15 percent of the 300 total tons of cocoa produced in southern Bahia.
And the amount should increase, especially since chocolate made from GI-stamped cocoa will also be able to carry the label.
“In order to get more farmers interested in the GI, buyers need to pay more for this cocoa,” said Reis. “This year, we created a QR code to improve product traceability, which is increasingly demanded by consumers.” (VOA)
Prior to the brutal second wave of the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cautioned civil services probationers against developing the despised "babu mindset". He gave the invaluable piece of advice while addressing civil services probies at the well-known Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie via video-conferencing. He also outlined the keystone mantra of "minimum government and maximum governance".
With the recent collapse of the under-construction flyover in Bandra Kurla Complex which injured 14 labourers, it seems like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has got the PM's keystone mantra all wrong. The recent flyover collapse isn't an isolated incident, in fact, a month ago a similarly bemusing incident took place in the eastern part of the suburbs.
On 1st August 2021, the honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Uddhav Thackeray inaugurated a flyover in the eastern part of the suburbs. In his inaugural speech, he quipped the BMC to smoothen the rough road surface. The BMC swing into action and the surface of the flyover was swiftly re-worked upon. But, instead of smoothening the pre-existing rough surface, the shoddy repair work added to the problem. To top it all off, the BMC added a barrage of speed breakers and rumbler strips on the bridge.
The shoddy repair work combined with a plethora of speed breakers caused long congestions on the Mankhurd-Ghatkopher stretch, ultimately killing the purpose of building the bridge. Moreover, after numerous accidents of motorbikes skidding on the bridge during the rain and the subsequent death of a rider the bridge was closed for traffic.
The construction of the flyover commenced in February 2016 at an approved cost of ₹500 crores. The project was slated to be delivered in January 2019 but was delayed multiple times. The BMC had also made a design change in the flyover by adding a connector to the Deonar dumping ground due to which the construction cost of the flyover was increased to over ₹700 crore. The flyover was expected to bring relief to the traffic on Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road but instead, it added to the existing traffic woes. On a concluding note, the maximum city of Mumbai runs on barely minimum governance, literally.
Keywords: Mumbai, Narendra Modi, Civil Services, Governance.
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.