Friday December 15, 2017
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Move from Hershey’s to Haldiram’s: Cocoa deficit to cross 2 million metric tons by 2030

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By Ishan Kukreti

Prepare to say goodbye to that need-to-cheer-up chocolate bar, that lets-make-up chocolate bar, that late night wolfing of chocolate-chip ice cream tub, that killer of melancholy, that sex substitute for many. It’s no secret now. Everyone who is anyone in the chocolate manufacturing business, from coca farmers to ‘chocolate experts’ have the same thing to say. The world will very shortly face a crippling chocolate crisis.

Cocoa- the stuff of chocolate

The cocoa produce have been lower than chocolate consumption for a long time now. The chocolate hungry world, last year consumed 70,000 metric tons of cocoa above what was produced. This trend is likely to last till 2018 according to Bloomberg. Predictions are that the deficit will be as high as 2 million metric tons by 2030.

Bad climatic conditions, Ebola threat among other issues have been the factors behind the fall in cocoa production in West Africa, source of 70% of world’s cocoa.

Anyone with basic knowledge of economics can sense a threat here. The cocoa prices will sky rocket and in turn make chocolate a rare delicacy. In fact the trend can already be seen manifesting itself. Cocoa prices rose by 60% in the last few years and just the last year recorded a jump of 24% in the crop price.

Search for a rebound

But as they say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, this loss of cocoa farmers will surely kick off a frenzied search for chocolate substitute. In fact the search has already started. And maybe the search party will go back happily with a box of Indian sweets from Haldiram’s or Bikaner.

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Can chocolate, which started from the New World find a substitute in the Old World? Can we imagine unwrapping a Ferrero Rocher to unveil a laddu? Tearing up the wrapper of Cadbury’s milk chocolate to eat little squares of barfi?

Necessity is the mother of all needs and tastes can be cultivated. How a man leaves his earlier addiction to find new ones to keep him company is all that the struggle ahead is about.

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Patients who Survive Ebola often Continue to Face Numerous Health Problems: Study

They have to face numerous health problems

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Laboratory technician Mohamed SK Sesay, who survived Ebola but saw many of his colleagues die and now has joint and muscle pains and loss of sight, holds the child of one of his work colleagues who died of the disease, in Kenema, Sierra Leone
Laboratory technician Mohamed SK Sesay, who survived Ebola but saw many of his colleagues die and now has joint and muscle pains and loss of sight, holds the child of one of his work colleagues who died of the disease, in Kenema, Sierra Leone. VOA
  • Approximately 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa from 2014 to 2016
  • Many battled vision problems and headaches that lasted for months
  • They show some quite distinct scarring patterns

Sierra Leone, West Africa, August 25, 2017: Patients who survive infection with the Ebola virus often continue to face numerous health problems. New research finds 80 percent of Ebola survivors suffer disabilities one year after being discharged from the hospital.

Approximately 11,000 people died in the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa from 2014 to 2016; tens of thousands more who were infected survived.

Of those survivors, many battled vision problems and headaches that lasted for months.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool, the UK and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK are studying what’s called post-Ebola syndrome. One of the senior authors of the study, Dr. Janet Scott, says researchers are unsure why survivors experience such disabilities.

“I’m not sure we’ve quite gotten to the bottom of it yet,” Scott said. “The idea that you go through something as horrific as Ebola and just walk away from that unscathed was always a bit of a vain hope. So, it could be the inflammatory response. It could be damage to the muscles, and it could be the persistence of the virus in some cases. It could be all of those things.”

Scott says problems found in Ebola survivors’ eyes may provide clues to what is happening elsewhere in the body.

“They show some quite distinct scarring patterns,” she said. “There’s definitely scar tissue there. We can see it in the eyes. We can’t see it in the rest of the body, but I’m sure it’s in the rest of the body because the patients are coming in with this huge range of problems.”

The disabilities were reported in past cases of  Ebola outbreak, as well. However, because past outbreaks were smaller and there were few survivors, researchers were not able to do major, long-term studies on the after effects.

ALSO READ: Indian-origin Scientist part of the team that discovered natural Human Antibodies to fight Ebola viruses

This time, said Scott, “There are 5,000 survivors or thereabouts in Sierra Leone, and more in Guinea and Liberia. So, it’s an opportunity from a research point of view to find out the full spectrum of sequelae … the things that happen after an acute illness.”

Military Hospital 34 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, also took part in the study, helping to recruit 27 Ebola survivors and 54 close contacts who were not infected. About 80 percent of survivors reported disabilities compared to 11 percent of close contacts.

“The problems we’re seeing in Ebola survivors, this is not due just to the tough life in Sierra Leone. This is more than likely down to their experience in Ebola,” Scott said.

The research was led by Dr. Soushieta Jagadesh, who said: “a year following acute disease, survivors of West Africa Ebola Virus Disease continue to have a higher chance of disability in mobility, cognition, and vision.”

“Issues such as anxiety and depression persist in survivors and must not be neglected,” she added.

Scott hopes the findings can be used to provide better care in the event of another Ebola outbreak, no matter where it is. In the West Africa outbreak, the first goal was to contain the epidemic, followed by reducing the death rate.

“If I was treating an Ebola patient again, it has to be more than just surviving,” Scott said. “You have to try to make people survive well. Surviving with half your body paralyzed or with your vision impaired and being unable to care for your family or earn a living isn’t really enough. So, what I would like to do is to focus on that aspect to make people survive better and survive well.” (VOA)

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Mudslide Disaster in Africa: Bodies Were ‘Just Being Washed’ Away, Says an Aid Worker of Sierra Leone

Bodies continue to arrive at Freetown's overwhelmed central morgue, with corpses laid on the floor and the ground outside

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People wearing protective suits hold hands as they cross a river after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 15, 2017, in this still image taken from a video. VOA

When aid worker Idalia Amaya arrived at the scene of the mudslide that devastated Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, she was horrified to find homes washed away, entire villages engulfed by mud, and corpses floating down the streets.

“Bodies were just being washed down streams … so many people were crying and wailing,” said Amaya, an emergency response coordinator for Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

“It was a horrible sight — it was devastating,” the U.S. aid worker told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone on Wednesday, two days after witnessing the mud’s deadly fallout.

A mountainside collapsed on Monday morning in the town of Regent, burying dozens of homes as people slept and killing at least 400. Women and children were hit the hardest in what is one of Africa’s deadliest mudslides in decades.

FILE - People inspect the damage after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 14, 2017.
FILE – People inspect the damage after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone, Aug. 14, 2017. VOA

Rescue workers have uncovered about 400 bodies so far, but that number is likely to surpass 500 as the search persists, Freetown’s chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya said Tuesday.

“The chance of finding more survivors is slim to none,” Amaya said. “It is so difficult to search in the mud.”

“A lot of victims were women and children, as men had left for work early in the morning. It is heartbreaking to see fathers and husbands who have lost all of their relatives.”

At least 3,000 people have been left homeless — and urgently need food, shelter and health care — while another 600 are missing, according to the Red Cross.

ALSO READ: UN: Most Deaths From Natural Disasters Occur in Poor Countries 

“Many people are reliving trauma they suffered during Ebola,” said Amaya, referring to the world’s worst recorded outbreak of the disease, which ravaged the former British colony from 2014 to 2016, infecting 14,000 people and killing 4,000.

“They are working around the clock to dig out survivors, support those in need, and make the best of the situation,” Amaya added. “I am struck by the resilience of people who have been through civil war, Ebola and deadly floods.”

Bodies continue to arrive at Freetown’s overwhelmed central morgue, with corpses laid on the floor and the ground outside.

The authorities and aid agencies are preparing to bury the dead in several Freetown cemeteries in coming days, CRS said.

As hundreds of people queued outside the morgue, Amaya said Freetown was struggling to come to terms with its latest disaster.

“It still feels very raw,” she said. “But people are coming together, grieving together, and starting the healing process.”(VOA)

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Why Do We Need to Save the Bugs to Save Chocolates? Find Out!

Scientists at STRI find microbes benefits cocoa plants against pathogen

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chocolates can now be saved with the help of litter bugs. Pixabay
  • Scientist identified microbes which could save baby cacao plants from becoming infected with pathogens
  • Colletotrichum tropicale protect plants from potential enemies
  • Scientists gives us reasons to think twice before considering anti-littering

Washington D.C, JULY 18, 2017: Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, in their recent study found that exposing baby cacao plants to microbes from healthy adult cacao plants reduced the plant’s chance of becoming infected with the serious cacao pathogen, Phytophthora palmivora, by half. Microbes benefit plants against pathogens and other destructive diseases.

Here’s what seems to be good news for chocolate lovers! Researchers at STRI have found that Colletotrichum tropicale adds to the plants’ longevity apart from defending it against harmful diseases. This could help in the future, saving thousands of cacao plants. Cacao plants are prevalent in the regions of tropical South America.

“When human babies pass through the birth canal, their bodies pick up a suite of bacteria and fungi from their mother. These microbes strengthen their immune system and make the baby healthier,” said Natalie Christian, a doctoral student at the University of Indiana and lead author of the paper. “We showed that an analogous process happens in plants: adult cacao trees also pass along protective microbes to baby cacao plants,” added Christian.

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According to ANI report, the researchers at STRI have carried out a research work for the past 20 years, investigating the relationship between the plants and the microbes.  “A mother tree can infect her babies with pathogens that can kill them if they are too close by. In this most recent study, we show that parents can also have a positive effect by supplying babies with good microbiota.”  STRI staff scientist and co-author, Allen Herre. The study has been postulated in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Cacao or cocoa tree’s seeds are processed into cocoa butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder. The trees often suffer damage ranging from 30 to 100 percent of their crops. However, with the recent breakthrough, some of the damages can be prevented resulting in the ample supply of cocoa products.

– Prepared by Puja Sinha. Twitter @pujas1994