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    January 13th, 2018adminBusiness & Economy, Nature, Records, All

    At Kuttapalayam, located about 100 km from Coimbatore, is a research foundation that focuses on in situ conservation and breeding of native breed of cattle (Kangayam cattle).

    At an event held here on Sunday at K’ sirs, the Seenapathy Kangayam Cattle Research Foundation (SKCRF), which is involved in the work at Tirupur district for several decades now, launched an updated website of its activities (, released brochures, and sought more support from the public to improve infrastructure and awareness on the Kangayam cattle. The website was hosted in 2009.

    A release said that the school organises Pongal festival annually and this year was a platform to create better awareness on Kangayam cattle.

    The foundation also has a resource and research centre for conservation of Kangayam cattle and Korangadu, a Silvi pasture grazing system in the western districts of the State.

    “An awareness for the protection of indigenous breeds of cattle has been created because of the jallikattu protest last year by the people and students of Tamil Nadu. I would like to thank them all on behalf of the cattle grazers,” says Karthikeya Sivasenapathy, managing trustee of the foundation.

    Protection of indigenous varieties of cattle is now becoming prevalent in India because of last year’s protest. The public have understood the need to conserve the native cattle breeds, said R. Radhakrishan, MP.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / b A. Kishore / Coimbatore – January 08th, 2018

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    Amidst a verdant grove of teak trees in Tamil Nadu’s Anamalai Tiger Reserve lies an ageing tombstone with a Latin inscription that says “Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around)”.

    The grave of a little-known Scotsman named Hugo Francis Andrew Wood, this serene spot remains a must-see for local forest guards and nature enthusiasts more than 70 years after the man himself died. For he is the reason why these ancient hills are still lush with trees.

    Here is the untold story of how Hugo Wood came to the rescue of Anamalai forests at a time when they stared at a bleak future.


    In 1820, a team of British surveyors ventured into the still unexplored Anamalai range (that spanned several peaks in the Madras Presidency) and were pleasantly surprised to find it heavily forested with towering trees of teak and rosewood.

    At that time, timber formed the backbone of many industries and Britain’s oak forests had vanished due to the irresponsible felling of trees. Furthermore, to retain its naval supremacy among the colonial powers, Britain desperately needed wood to make new ships.

    Apart from shipbuilding and construction, logs were also needed to build train tracks for Britain’s rapidly expanding rail network — for each mile of train track, around 2,000 wooden planks were required — and provide fuel for steam locomotives.

    As such, the surveyors were quick to realise the value of what they had “discovered”. Soon after, the mountains began being gradually robbed of their abundant tree cover, with the teak being shipped of to Tiruchirappalli (to build train tracks) or Bombay (to build Royal Navy ships in the Bombay shipyard).

    Too large to be conventionally transported, the giant teak trees were cut down into logs, carried by elephants till a point and then floated down the river to the plains below — the reason why, in time, the spot came to be named Topslip.


    In fact, according to Forestination in Madras Presidency by Dietrich Brandis (1883), roughly about 40,000 trees were felled each year in government forests in Madras Presidency for the railways alone!

    Thanks to this over-exploitation, the once-green hills of Anamalai had lost much of their tree cover by 1885. For the next three decades, several British foresters tried to regenerate the region but failed. And then came Hugo Wood.

    Appointed the District Forest Officer of Coimbatore South Division in September 1915 (a post he would hold till 1926), Hugo decided to put a stop to the unchecked destruction of Anamalai’s forests and drew up a working plan for the same.

    First, the 45-year-old Scotsman talked the local colonial authorities and convinced them to stop hunting wildlife and the irresponsible chopping of trees. He also befriended the tribals who lived near the forests, restored their traditional rights and brought back many who had been displaced (due to the British bringing the Anamalai forests under the reserved category).


    Next, Hugo scathingly admonished the British government for uprooting trees and introduced the forest management technique of coppicing — a method that takes advantage of the fact that many trees rapidly regrow during spring if they are cut down up to the stump during the winter.

    Finally, he marked out areas where no logging or coppicing would be allowed for a period of 25 years. In fact, such was his dedication towards his work that he refused to provide timber to the British during the World War I (1914-1918).

    In 1916, Hugo set up a bamboo hut in Mount Stuart (near Topslip) and began working in earnest to regenerate the forest of the mountain range. He started small, targeting an area of 25 acres. By the time of his death, it had spread to an area of 650 sq km.

    He lived alone, cooked his own food and never missed out on a daily ritual. During his daily walks in the deforested land, he would fish out fistfuls of teak seeds from his pockets, use his silver-tipped walking stick to poke a hole in the ground, and plant seeds there.


    He would repeat the process till his pockets were empty. Then he would go back for more seeds and start again from where he left off. He also made efforts to rid the hills of Lantana camara, an invasive species of flowering shrub that hampered the growth of teak.

    Hugo’s hard work paid off, breathing new life into the hills of Anamalai.

    In 1925, Hugo retired after a severe bout of tuberculosis and settled in Coonoor, according to a Tamil Nadu forest department booklet. Having remained a bachelor (choosing instead to devote his life to conservation), he died on December 12, 1933, at the age of 63.

    However, a few months earlier, a seriously ill Hugo had written a will asking to be buried amidst the trees he had planted. He has also sent the money for the same to the chief conservator of Madras Presidency.

    On his death, this request was conceded and Hugo Wood was laid to rest among his lasting legacy — the teak trees he raised in the hills of Anamalai.

    On windy days, leaves gently float down from the trees on to the tombstone as if to pay homage to the man who so completely loved the Anaimalais and who did so much to save it.


    Today, this place has become an oft-visited spot for tourists while his immense contribution has become a part of the local folklore. Forest department vehicles ferry people from Kozhikamuthi elephant camp to Hugo’s grave amidst Topslip’s flourishing teak forest. The forest department is now planning to set up a memorial dedicated to the legend at the spot.

    Close by is the Mount Stuart Rest House (built in 1886) that is still let out to guests. Though the building stands in all its historic glory, it does have limited damage caused by curious bears and wild elephants who seem to have taken a permanent fancy to the house! However, do note that only wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers are allowed accommodation.

    Photographs :  Pic (01) / P. Jeganathan / (02 and 03)  (04 and 05)

    source: / The Better India / Home> Conservation> Environment> Lede> Nature / by Sanchari Pal / December 28th, 2017

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    Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan, who is National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017, talks about his award-winning shot and love for wildlife photography

    He was a point-and-shoot photographer for 10 years. Four years ago, his wife got him a DSLR and today Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan is the National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017 for his photograph of an orangutan crossing a river in the wilds of Borneo.

    Excitement ripples through his voice as he talks about his award-winning shot. “In August, I was in Kalimantan on the Indonesian side of Borneo and heard about this orangutan that crossed the river. I found this amazing because orangutans normally avoid water. They’re arboreal creatures. And, there were crocodiles in the river.”


    So he made for the area but didn’t see anything for a couple of days. But he decided to wait. “I had a hunch this would be special.” On the third day, he heard that the animal had been spotted on the other side of the river and rushed to the spot. “When the orangutan appeared, I climbed into the water.” Didn’t he remember the crocs? “Yes but I had to do it if I wanted that truly unique shot.” His appearance made the orangutan nervous and it retreated behind a tree. They played peekaboo till the animal decided that it could ignore him. “I got around 25 shots of it peeping out from behind the tree and retreating,” laughs Bojan. “Then he came out and began to cross the river and I got this shot.”

    Bojan, who is from the Nilgiris, says his interest in wildlife came naturally. His grandparents lived in a village just a few kilometres from Dodabetta. “I was surrounded by birds and lot of wildlife.” He also lived in Bengaluru so he got in a lot of “backyard birding” and travelled to all the National Parks in India (one of his favourites is Nagarhole). But he started taking wildlife photography seriously when his wife was transferred to Singapore two years ago and he quit his job to move there. A visit to the Singapore Zoo triggered his interest in primates. “It was the first time I had seen them and I wanted to see them in the wild.” He began to research and reach out to people across Southeast Asia. “Southeast Asia has approximately 25% of the most highly endangered species of primates. You don’t have the usual photo-safari destinations here and it was hard to find people who knew where to spot them. Slowly my connections grew and I’ve been able to photograph around eight or nine species.”

    Bojan’s photos were earlier picked as the Editor’s favourites in the National Geographic Nature Photography Awards but he’s glad it’s the orangutan that won. “More people will see this and there will be more visibility and may be more people will be willing to help. The orangutans need more help than they’re getting.”


    His favourite subjects apart from primates, and organutans in particular, are the tiger and otters. “My first tiger shot was in Bandipur,” he reminisces. “It was a female called Gauri and she had two cubs.” On the subject of otters, he has a lot more to say. While he has photographed otters in the wild in Kabini and Corbett National Park, it is a family of wild otters near his house in Singapore that currently has him captured. “They’ve figured out a way to live in an urban place like Singapore. There’s a community called Otter Watch that tracks the otters across Singapore. They post updates on social media and recently celebrated the birth of new pups. The otters roll on the sand or the grass to clean their fur as the humans watch and even take food from them.” One of Bojan’s photos of a couple of elderly men reaching out to the otters won an award from the Indian website Nature in Focus.


    Going forward, Bojan hopes to do a photo-story book on primates. “Some of these species number just 50-100 in the wild.” He’s also looking forward to a trip in Japan in February to shoot the snow monkey, the red fox and migrating raptors. He hopes to get some sightings of the elusive snow leopard from a trip to the Spiti Valley later in 2018. Towards the end of the year, if his permissions come through, he’ll be tracking a rare monkey on the Vietnam-China border. “I have lots of photographs to come; many more stories to tell,” he says.

    A tough battle

    Halfway through the story of his award-winning shot, Bojan gets side-tracked into the story of a ranger-turned-conservationist who is trying to buy land around the periphery of the national parks to ensure that it doesn’t fall into the hands of palm oil companies. “He’s educating the local people about habitats and the animals there and training them to be guides. The profits from guided tours are being invested into ensuring that land around the forest stays wild.”

    While Bojan admits it’s a tough call to choose between preserving habitats and finding employment, he hopes they can sustain this initiative. “Obviously they cannot pay as much as the bigger companies. I am donating a part of the award money towards this cause. They’ve managed to buy around 12 acres in the last year, which is a great feat.” Around 30% of Indonesia’s income comes from palm oil, so it’s a “tricky affair for all concerned: the government and the people on the ground.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style / by R. Krithika / December 25th, 2017

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    A few residents’ welfare associations have set to work on the Corporation’s plan for creating a city free of landfills

    The annual general body meeting at a gated community in Perungudi turned out to be stormier than expected. None of the resolutions was passed without a prolonged debate — except for one. Without as much as a squeak, almost everyone agreed that the community should invest in a composting. And, on this unusually “stormy” day, it was surprisingly smooth sailing for this resolution.

    A letter by the Corporation, displayed on a projector-screen earlier, had done the trick. It dwelt on a Corporation mandate that apartment complexes generating over 100 kilos of waste had to manage their waste on their premises.

    After the presentation, a member of Doshi Etopia-II Residential Flat Owners’ Association, cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention.

    “I hope we are all for a resolution to set up a compost unit to process wet waste at our complex,” he said.

    The hall seemed to fill up with raised hands.

    Whether this gated community, which has over 200 apartments, ratifies this resolution in the next few months or takes longer to do so, is beside the point.

    What is significant here is that residents’ welfare associations and voluntary organisations can play an aggressive role in taking forward Corporation’s objectives in waste management.

    They can point out to residents in unequivocal terms what ought to be done and what ought not to be, as spelt out by the Corporation. In this sense, these associations serve as an effective interpreter and mediator to the Corporation.

    On its part, the Corporation has been conducting door-to-door campaigns at colonies and gated communities to create awareness about better waste management practices, especially after October 2 when it made source segregation mandatory.

    “We are focusing on setting up more compost plants; in some divisions, finding the space to carry out this initiative is a challenge. We have identified 11 places where facilities to process biodegradable waste can come up. Compost plants are ready in Zone XI. In Zone XII, a plant is under construction and a mechanised composting machine has been installed in Zone XV,” says S. Gopala Sundara Raj, Regional Deputy Commissioner (South), Greater Chennai Corporation. It may be noted that the Corporation has no immediate plans to slap a fine on those who don’t follow the rules. Given this lenient position, it needs the help of residents’ welfare associations to keep drumming up the message.

    Community initiatives:

    * Two months ago, Vishranthi Coconut Grove Residents Association, a 60-unit community in Tansi Nagar, Velachery, pooled in ₹750 each from every resident to invest in two composting pots, each having a capacity of 600 litres. “Once you pay for something, you want to see what is being done, so we had a majority of residents who were ready to pay for community green bins. Also, many realised this was cheaper and less of a hassle than maintaining a khamba pot at home,” says Priya Shankar, president of the Association, adding that they get help from a vendor who monitors the whole process.

    The Association expects residents to segregate.

    “At least 90 % of the residents are segregating waste and witnessing the benefits of doing so,” says Priya.

    * When it comes to environment-friendly practices, Ceebros Boulevard Flat Owners Association (CBFOA) in Thoraipakkam has been raising its bar regularly. Their latest initiative — Green Spaces — is inspired from the do-it-yourself (DIY) concept from the west.

    Here, residents are required to take their bins to the Green Spaces, where eight to nine bins are placed, and dispose waste on their own. “Cleanliness is a big issue if the bins are not cleared at the correct time from the corridors. Also, finding labour and educating them is a challenge,” says a resident. The gated community with over 300 flats currently has 80-100 residents practising DIY.

    * After a resolution was passed at the annual general body meeting of Ceebros Orchid in Velachery to start segregation of waste at source, the Association distributed segregation kits. The kit, consisting of two bins and one bag, was distributed to each of the 192 flats at the apartment complex.

    A nominal amount was charged for the kit. “Currently, only 60 families follow the practice regularly. We hope to convert the rest by meeting them in person and explaining to them the benefits of environment-friendly practices,” says Swaminathan, a resident of the Ceebros Orchid.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Liffy Thomas / December 08th, 2017

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    A software engineer is offering guidance to anyone seeking to set up a low-cost rainwater harvesting system

    Sriram Vasudevan, a software engineer, uses his free time for work involving hardware. Not the hardware you associate with computers. He’s working with PVC pipes, L-joints and valves and other material necessary to build rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems. Having set up a self-designed, cost-effective RWH structure at his house in Ramapuram, he is helping others install such structures at theirs.

    He had been researching intensely on how to install cost-effective RWH structures before devising such a model himself. He says this work is motivated by a desire to solve water-related problems in the city. Sometime ago, he posted an announcement on Facebook, expressing his desire to guide anyone who wants to install such an RWH structure. “My friend Balaji set up an RWH structure at his house recently and I was greatly inspired by it. I believe a good RWH structure in each house will help solve many water-related problems in the city,” he says. Here’s how this model works.

    “The rainwater that gets collected in someone’s terrace should be directed to their borewell, well or sump,” he explains. In regular RWH systems, the collected rainwater is directed to a rainwater harvesting pit dug near the house. This pit has a layer of coarse pebbles to help filter impurities and channel the water underground directly. In a variation of this model, Sriram suggests that a valve be placed in the RWH pipes.

    This valve is capable of clearing out the impurities, thereby helping bypass the need for a rainwater harvesting pit.

    Sriram says channeling the collected rainwater directly to the borewell will help improve water quality.

    “There will be a evident change in water quality and taste, post-monsoon,” he says.

    He points out that in case of any overflow in the collection system, an extra tank can always be set up to store excess water.

    Sriram has already helped two residents set up RWH structures at their houses.

    Sriram can be reached at 9944888755

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Anjana Shekar / November 17th, 2017

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    Artistes of Karaikudi, company’s designers, handcrafting the eco-friendly products of Tetewood

    Artistes of Karaikudi, company’s designers, handcrafting the eco-friendly products of Tetewood

    Chennai :

    As fashion progresses towards going green, this Chennai startup went one step further turning spectacle frames biodegradable. Though there are many options for buying spectacle frames in the market today, an online store TeteWood, deals in a unique product — biodegradable wooden frames. ‘When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves, so why not go green, make a cleaner greener environment and make the Earth a better place for our fellow Earthlings’ reads the company’s motto.


    Jayakumar Mamani, (24), CEO, TeteWood, started the company in January 2017. ‘Tete’ stands for Tectonas Texture. He was inspired by a local optical vendor in Karaikudi and that is how it all began. “I am interested in wood and studied a lot about bamboo in Auroville. When I visited Hyderabad, I loved the concept of the wooden house, and wanted to learn more,” he says. “I was always looking forward to creating something innovative that can be used by people on a daily basis. So I thought of making wooden eyewear which is a unique concept in India, and preferred by youngsters,” he says.

    The business is helmed from Chennai and Bengaluru. They also ship orders to  Maldives, Kenya and Australia. Most of their products go to retailers and wholesalers, and the stalls at international optical expos paved way for it. Jayakumar does his business online in other websites like Indiamart and TradeIndia.

    He faced several challenges in the initial stages. “My mother was a house maid; we struggled to eat one square meal a day. I also lost my father in the first month of the launch of our website,” he shares.

    Collecting wooden frames for sampling was also difficult as there were lots of legal formalities. Now, he wants to take Tetewood to the next level and is looking for big investors.

    “Customers can bring any wooden piece to us and we will make the desired spectacle out of it. For instance, even if a broken chair is given to us, we can make multiple frames out of it!” His investors include his friends with whom he plays basketball. “They gave me all that I wanted; they are my genies. One of my friends, Ragu showed great interest in the product and invested Rs 5 lakh for starting the project. Now I have three other individual investors, a sum of Rs 25 lakh on the whole,” he says.
    There are 12 employees in the team and 80% of the work is handcrafted by the traditional artists of Karaikudi. Sonnet and Booze model are in demand in the Indian market and product with customer’s name engraved on it is most liked.

    Tetewood has taken the patent for the patterns/engravings over wooden optical frames, luxury frames — frames with wood and gold costing from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000 per frame. In future, he plans to make frames from wood and jean, oxidized plate, metal/stone/linen/other combo with natural prints, wooden phone cases, bowties, wooden certificates, wooden notebooks and  the list goes on.

    Due to the large scale demands of the products, he had to reject few offers as they only produce around 100 pieces of frames as the time and labour invested is more. “We are the first manufacturers in India to build a company exclusively for the wooden eyewear, so there is not much competition for us in the market,” claims Jayakumar.
    To make a strong base offline and market his project he would need Rs 3 crore.

    Rs 5 lakh
    The basic investment Tetewood started  off with

    Rs 25 lakh
    The current capital with which they work on wih three investors on board

    Rs 3 crore

    The amount they  need in investment for venturing into luxury products

    12 employees
    While their products are handcrafted by artistes of Karaikudi.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Priyanka Susil / Express News Service / November 01st, 2017

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    Award-winning geologist C Singaraja explains how what’s happening beneath our feet impacts our lives and health

    It’s Shawshank Redemption in real life. Or, if you prefer, Erin Brockovich. In the first, a banker (Tim Robbins) charged with murder is sent to a high-security prison where he uses his fine knowledge of rocks to dig a tunnel and escape.

    In the second, based on a true story, Erin Brockovich, a law-firm assistant (Julia Roberts) investigates a chemicals company that releases untreated hexavalent chromium thus contaminating groundwater and jeopardising the health of local residents.

    Geologist Dr C Singaraja was recently conferred a Dr APJ Abdul Kalam prize for Young Scientist — 2017, by Marina Labs R&D, Chennai, a Medical Research Center and Biotechnology Company. The award was given in recognition of his study of groundwater. Rocks, water, contamination: how does he join the dots?

    “I did my graduation and post graduation studies in Thoothukudi, and moved to Annamalai University for my M.Phil and doctorate work,” he says. “My paper for MPhil was on how tidal variation affects groundwater along the Cuddalore coast. My PhD thesis on the other hand was on the hydro-geo chemistry of groundwater in Thoothukudi district. This place has sea-water intrusion and heavy-metal pollution by industries. I checked the land for the presence of radon and fluoride and their effect on groundwater.”

    He listed the findings. Groundwater is impacted by salt content in coastal regions. In inland areas the weathering of bed-rock leaches mica, fluorite and fluoro-apatite into groundwater. The report educates panchayats and builders about water quality, and the reasons why it gets contaminated.

    Singaraja also worked as an assistant on a project that surveyed soil in Thoothukudi, Dindigul, Krishnagiri, Nagapattinam, Puducherry and Villuppuram. He prepared a groundwater quality index, and pointed to where people could find good aquifer zones.

    The team tested and labelled water quality region-wise based on scientific parameters. “In Cuddalore district we showed how tidal waves and salt-pans impacted water salinity, and how this affected sea creatures. We devised a method to remove excess fluoride from water using natural materials,” he says

    Since 2009 Singaraja has been part of several soil-testing projects and has written 40 papers on hydro-geology. “Rocks don’t change for millennia, but water content does, indicating what’s happening beneath our feet and how it impacts our lives and health.” He also studies what he calls medical geology. “It looks into the health effects of rocks,” he explains. For example, granite, a source rock, contains naturally-occurring uranium and radon, and exposure to weather makes uranium radio-active and radon into gas. These run into groundwater, making it unsafe.

    Doing research on water quality in 100-plus villages was memorable. “Some villagers noticed the instrument we dipped in the water and accused us of poisoning their sources. Others knew what we were doing and asked us to check the water in wells in their homes. Still others requested us to bore wells for them. We helped farmers identify zones to dig for water.” That’s a lot of passion in someone who calls himself a reluctant geologist. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after school. A cousin had studied Geology and was doing well with the Geological Survey of India. I joined VOC, Thoothukkudi, which has a well-known 85-year-old Geology Department. I soon warmed up to my subject.”

    Talking about the water in Chennai, he says boiling drinking water will make it salt-free. “Store can water in porous mud pots, so the pH increases through air circulation. It’s good for health. Check common water for fluoride. Beyond 1.5 mg/litre it could cause yellowing teeth and problems with bones.”

    He adds, “Never buy land or construct houses without first testing the soil for curability; and water for elements within permissible levels. Certain types of soil swell with water and shake the foundation. The effects of groundwater contamination show up slowly after regular intake. Rain-water harvesting purifies groundwater. So opt for preventive measures.”

    He adds, “Geology is currently an important subject. Future wars will be fought over fresh water… Research on groundwater components can get you two Nobels — for Science and for Peace.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Society / by Geeta Padmanabhan / November 06th, 2017

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    Sippiparai dog at the show held at Maduravoyal on Saturday. | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

    Sippiparai dog at the show held at Maduravoyal on Saturday. | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

    No registration fee for these dogs, says canine club president

    Various breeds of dogs made a beeline to Mettukuppam Main Road in Maduravoyal on Saturday as the two-day All Breeds Championship Dog Show organised by the Madras Canine Club began.

    The Labrador Retriever Club of India’s 13th National Show, The Tamil Nadu Rottweiler Association’s Speciality Show, The Indian Association of Doberman Breed Speciality Show and The Madras Canine Club’s All Breed Championship Show saw a number of entries from across the country.

    “About 400 dogs of 52 breeds have registered. Over 50 dogs of Indian breeds have also registered. Mudhol Hounds, Rajapalayam and Chippiparai are among the popular Indian breeds. Every dog, as per the rules, has to be microchipped. The cost of a microchip is about ₹500. We are not charging registration fee for native breeds this year. People with other breeds will have to pay,” said C.V. Sudarsan, president, Madras Canine Club. Pointing to the new system of competition among native breeds this year, Mr. Sudarsan said the Kennel Club of India was now making an all-out effort to improve the native breeds.

    A. Swaminathan, a participant whose 6-month-old Doberman Pinscher came second, said the show continues to be an opportunity to learn and draw inspiration from other breeds. Software engineer C.Nithyanandan, who brought two of his Rajapalayam dogs from his native village near Gudiyatham, said he wanted to continue work on conserving native breeds.

    While the first day of the event saw breeds such as Labrador retriever, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler and Dachshund competing in different rounds, Sunday will also have other breeds participating in the show.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News>States> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – October 07th, 2017

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    The state boasts of being one of the major cultivators of jasmine in the country . Yet, with jasmine being a seasonal shrub, its cultivation is limited between March and September, leaving farmers unemployed during the off-season. Not anymore.

    Floriculturists at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) are now working on developing a variety of jasmine that grows all year round. Called the improved CO2 variety of `pitchi’ -one that is popular for hair accessorising – it promises to produce flowers throughout the year.

    Though the yield of the variety is expected to be around 30% lesser than the older varieties of pitchi jasmine, it will give the farmers extremely high returns during the off season or winter.

    The older varieties of pitchi jasmine cultivated during the flowering season (between March and September-end) give farmers an annual yield of around 10 tonnes per hectare.

    “However, the price of jasmine during the season is only Rs150 per kg. They almost have no income during the off-season, ” says professor and head of the floriculture department, M Kannai.

    “But, there were a few farmers who harvest their flowers during the off season too, because it yields a much better price. That is what gave us the idea to come up with a clone of a variety that grows all year round, ” he adds.

    The new variety called `improved CO2′ is expected to produce a uniform yield throughout the year. “The variety will give an overall yield of 7 tonnes per hectare, which is 30% lesser than the yield given by CO1 and CO2,” says Kannan.

    “But the advantage is that farmers will be able to rake in at least `700 to `800 per kg for even loose flowers during the off season between October and February. Thus, the returns for farmers will be higher with the new variety than the older CO1 and CO2 varieties, ” he adds.

    The variety is also resistant to major diseases and pests that affect the jasmine plant. “The buds of the new variety are an intensive pink, com pared to the usual light pink, but once the flower blooms, it assumes a neat white colour, ” says Kannan.

    The only disadvantage of the variety is that, with a shelf life of hardly 24 hours, the pitchi jasmine is unlikely to be chosen for ex ports. The Gundu Malli which stays fresh for around 48 hours when refrigerated is instead preferred for exports.

    Multi-locational trials of the variety have been under progress for the past six months, say department staff. ” We have been conducting trials with the new variety in farmer’s fields, shrubs for which were planted in March.Some of them have started bearing flowers too, ” says Kannan. The department has also distributed plants of the new clone to around 25 jasmine farmers in 10 jasmine growing districts including Madurai, Dindigul, Erode, Krishnagiri, Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai and Coimbatore.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Madurai News / by Pratiksha Ramkumari / TNN / September 26th, 2017

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    The spices shop at the State Secretariat. | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

    The spices shop at the State Secretariat. | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

    New retail outlet sells forest produce sourced from Doddabetta

    The Secretariat complex is more than just a cluster of government offices. The nearly 6,000 salaried staff who work there as well as the thousands who visit the offices make the complex a bazaar where a range of products — from vegetables through junk jewellery to snacks — can be bought.

    Jostling for space at the Secretariat is a shop whose products are a heady mix — spices and medicinal oils. On a day when the demand for grants of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department was being debated at the Assembly, the department had opened a retail outlet selling produce sourced from the Medicinal Plant Development Area (MPDA) at Doddabetta.

    The star attraction at the shop was a set of eleven varieties of spices, such as cloves, black pepper and star anise, packaged in sachets and priced at ₹ 160. “You can also buy them separately,” said S. Ashok, who runs the shop.

    Variety of products

    The shop also sells eucalyptus oil, lemon grass oil, camphor oil, citriodora oil, teatree oil and many others. The price of these concentrated oils is between ₹ 90 and ₹140 per 50 ml. “You can apply them directly or mix them with other oils,” added Mr. Ashok.

    Making a strong pitch for the products, Mr. Ashok said the wintergreen oil that is sold in the shop can relieve arthritis. “If you cannot get relief from this oil, there is nothing else in the world that can cure your arthritis,” said Mr. Ashok. The Forest Department runs a similar outlet at Vandalur too.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by B. Kolappan / Chennai – June 15th, 2017

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