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Brewing a different cup of coffee

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One of the top ten Arabica varieties of  coffee in the world, our own Lak Parakum is now being promoted by the Department of Export Agriculture in all Arabica coffee-growing districts in the island. Plants of this variety are distributed among growers through several coffee nurseries in the upcountry. The coffee rust which ended the  island’s coffee romance in British-occupied then  Ceylon is given hope for resurgence with the promotion of the new  variety.

BY RANDIMA ATTYGALLE

History has it that coffee was introduced to Ceylon in 1503 by the Arab traders from Yemen. However, the planting of coffee as a commercial crop in the island commenced with the Dutch occupancy and continued under the British rule. Planter R.B Butler who had experience in coffee plantations in Jamaica came here in 1837 and introduced methods to yield a better coffee crop. By 1863, the value of coffee imported into Europe from all parts of the world amounted to £270 million, and we were exporting nearly a third of that. By 1870, Sri Lanka’s coffee production peaked with over 275,000 hectares being cultivated, according to the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) data.

The colonial Ceylon was among the top coffee producing and exporting nations and a coffee-drinking culture complete with kopi kaday (coffee kiosks) and kopi kele (coffee forests) evolved. Christine Spittel-Wilson’s famous book The Bitter Berry revolves around the ethos of a Ceylonese coffee plantation.

Sadly, the coffee rust of 1870 (caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix) destroyed all plantations bringing the coffee romance of the country to an end. Although rust-tolerant varieties were later introduced, today coffee is an intercrop with tea and coconut. However, Lak Parakum promoted by the Department of Export Agriculture (DEA), encourages planters to expand their coffee acreage.

Sri Lanka’s coffee cultivation covers around 4,600 hectares and the two main commercially important species locally grown are Arabica coffee (Coffea Arabica) and Robusta Coffee (Coffea canephora). These two main species grown here include several varieties. “While Arabica coffee varieties are recommended for mid and up country areas with an altitude of over 400m (Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Matale and Badulla), Robusta variety is recommended for mid and low country with an altitude of less than 800m( Kegalle, Kurunegala, Kandy and Matale). These

recommendations are made depending on the temperature variation. While Arabica prefers a temperature of 15-28ºC, Robusta thrives in a temperature of 18-36ºC” says Dr. H.M.P.A Subasinghe, Director (Research), Department of Export Agriculture (DEA).

The global specialty coffee market as the EDB notes, is projected to reach over USD 80 billion by 2025 which offers enormous growth potential for coffee producers. In line with this increasing demand, Sri Lanka’s coffee exports have increased in recent years, growing 84 percent from 2017 to reach nearly USD 355,000 by 2019 according to EDB data. The coffee industry as the EDB notes, has attracted increased investment from the private sector and increased local demand and consumption of locally grown coffee in hotels, restaurants and cafes.

More than 80% the world demand is for Arabica coffee and the requirement is 8.8 million mt, says Dr. Subasinghe. Lak Parakum with its quality parameters stands among the best ten Arabica varieties in the world, he adds.

Even after releasing the new variety Lak Parakum, it did not become popular among farmers due to lower prices offered for coffee. But the Director (Research) of the DEA then, Dr. J.M.Seneviratne initiated collaborations with the authorities at the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat to popularize the new variety among growers in the Nuwara Eliya District. He also worked with Mr. Kenneth McAlpine, a member of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) for the global coffee industry to find the quality parameters of Lak Parakum and found that overall score was 85.5 which is way above the cutoff point for the best coffees which is considered to be 75.”

While Lak Parakum is promoted for higher elevations, IMY which is of Robusta variety is also promoted for lower elevations right now. While the domestic coffee consumption is 2,300 mt. our annual production was 2,345 mt. in 2020 according to DEA’s statistics. Our annual export volume was 26.6 mt in 2020. Australia, UAE, USA, Maldives, New Zealand, Chile, UK and Germany are the major buyers of Sri Lankan coffee. The annual coffee import volume was 104.9 mt in 2020.

“Due to immature coffee harvesting and bad processing practices, most importing countries are rejecting our coffee and with the new variety if we can practice timely harvesting and good processing practices, the export potential is very high,” observes Dr. Subasinghe.

Several new measures are now in place to tap a lucrative market for Sri Lankan coffee. Production of planting material with private sector nurseries, awareness programmes for harvesting and processing practices for high quality products, promotion for value addition, introduction of GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certification to get premium prices and increasing the coffee extent from 4,600 ha to 5,800 ha and the export volume from 30 mt. to 200 mt by 2025 are among these. Collaborations with the Australian government-funded Market Development Facility for the improvement of the coffee industry are also in place.

Although threats from rust diseases are still prevalent in coffee fields, they can be controlled with good management practices and available control measures, points out Dr. Subasinghe. “Apart from the rust disease, the major pest problem is the coffee berry borer damage. This too can be managed with good crop management practices. While Robusta varieties are highly tolerant for rust, Arabica is medium tolerant.”

Due to the low prices offered for coffee (Rs. 350 to 400 per kilo), many growers had neglected coffee in the last few years, however, currently a kilo of coffee could get Rs. 1,200. “We also offer coffee growers incentives including free planting material, technological assistance for planting, crop management, harvesting, fertilizer application, processing and management of pest and diseases. Subsidies for irrigation facilities and machinery used for post-harvest practices and support for GAP are also offered.”

Managing Director of Kelaneiya & Braemar Estate Maskeliya, Murugiah Balendran, a leading grower of Lak Parakum first experimented with it in 2014. Director (Research) of the DEA then, Dr. J.M.Seneviratne who collected a gene pool from old plants from many areas including Walapane, Ramboda, Galaha and Nilambe offered me mother plants of Lak Parakum and encouraged me to experiment with them,” reflects Balendran who goes onto add that the ‘trial and error’ exercise eventually turned out to be successful. His own estate which was once an exclusive coffee plantation still has coffee trees more than 100 years old.

The senior planter who is now well versed in producing seed stock of Lak Parakum has released about 1,500 kg to nurseries since 2018. “Each kilo of seed could produce 2,000 to 3,000 plants, so a sizeable amount of plants have been generated todate.” Balendran has dedicated four hectares of land to coffee alone today and urge fellow coffee growers to move away from the ‘intercrop mindset’ and allocate more fertile land for the crop. “Many growers plant coffee in vacant land space where largely tea had been removed. However, unless the soil quality is improved, planting coffee in vacant tea and coconut estates won’t do.”

Balendran who also grows several other varieties of coffee including a few Indian ones remarks that there is a notable difference between those and Lak Parakum in terms of the yield, resistance to disease and the texture of beans. “However it will take us another four to five years to show the true potential of it.”

Lack of fertilizer has taken a notable toll on the crop, laments the planter. “At the time of blooming and berries start setting, we need to give some fertilizer. But unfortunately last year our crop was very poor and didn’t match our expectations. Even the seed delivery to DEA and other agents got curtailed to a large extent. Moreover, although I have been supplying coffee seed material from 2018, I have so far not received any significant assistance from any government agency,” remarks Balendran who moots an effective result-oriented incentive scheme for coffee growers.

Photo credit: Murugiah
Balendran, Royal Commonwealth
Society, W.L.H. Skeen & Co.



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Life style

The return of the mighty mini

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The mini-dress has a new lease of life – but why now?

It’s an old cliché that when the stock market goes up, so do hemlines. So why, given 2019’s tempestuous social, political and economic climate, are we in the throes of a miniskirt revival?

With skirts being styled with everything from neat tweed jackets to oversized skater hoodies, it is a distinct change in pace for the hard-edged androgyny of recent years, says Celenie Seidel, senior womenswear editor at luxury-fashion platform Farfetch: “Women are revisiting a more exuberant, playful and optimistic way of dressing again, and the miniskirt revival is a big part of that.”

Beyond the catwalks, UK chain Marks & Spencer reported that it sold 300,000 miniskirts over the winter – in no small part due to brand ambassador and TV presenter Holly Willoughby’s predilection for minis. The miniskirt is the “dominant skirt silhouette” sold by online retailers, and currently accounting for 45% of skirt sales in the UK, says Kalya Marci, market analyst at retail consultancy Edited. Marci adds that searches for miniskirts have increased more than 50% in the past three months compared with the same period last year.

An understanding of the miniskirt’s place in fashion history gives some context to its surge in popularity today. The social and cultural impact of the mini forms a major theme in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Mary Quant retrospective, which runs until 16 February 2020.

We have reached the point where our hemlines are free to be as macro or micro as they please

Opinions differ on who invented the abbreviated garment – Cristóbal Balenciaga, Mary Quant and André Courrèges have all been credited. What is undeniable is that the miniskirt’s launch-pad was 1960s Swinging London, and it was local designer Quant who took the garment beyond the rarefied world of high fashion.

“The miniskirt came to symbolise freedom, empowerment and an increased confidence for the younger generation, who refused to conform and follow the stifling rules of their mother’s generation,” V&A curator Stephanie Wood tells BBC Designed. It also came to embody the broader social and cultural freedoms being fought for and gradually experienced by many women during the 1960s, she adds, “as more women entered the workforce, gaining their own independent wealth, and women began to gain more autonomy over their own bodies with the introduction of the contraceptive pill.”

Over the decades, the miniskirt has been subject to criticism by some feminist campaigners, and associated with an over-sexualised female stereotype. The current revival counters the recent gravitation towards more “modest” dressing, which has favoured longer lengths and looser silhouettes. The simple explanation is the cyclical nature of fashion trends: as midi and maxi lengths hit the mainstream, early adopters seek out something new.

Symbol of defiance

Meanwhile in 2019, we have reached the point where our hemlines are free to be as macro or micro as they please – but in the #MeToo era, when women’s bodies are increasingly politicised, the miniskirt is once again a symbol of defiance. “Fashion has a long history of representing political and social ideas, specifically because fashion is a powerful and very visible form of communication”, says Wood. “Perhaps the renaissance of the miniskirt can be linked with women feeling the need to reclaim their own bodies”.

While the miniskirts of the 1960s were a defining part of social shifts triggered by the so-called teenage “youthquake”, in 2019 it is notable that the trend has no upper-age limit. The Instagram feeds of Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Rihanna are peppered with miniskirts, but the garment is also favoured by high-profile women in their 40s and beyond, such as Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, the Spice Girl Emma Bunton and Quant herself.

‘Sexy’, skin-baring items like the miniskirt have found new context – Alice Gividen

When it comes to ageism, fashion’s tectonic plates are shifting: Christy Turlington, 50, closed the show for Marc Jacobs at his New York Fashion Week show in February; Patti Hansen, 63, was the star model at Michael Kors. Simone Rocha cast several 40-something women in her London show including 1980s favourite Jeny Howorth, and Marie Sophie Wilson. Yasmin Le Bon, 54, declared earlier this year that she wears miniskirts more in her 50s than she did in her 20s or 30s.

“There’s a new narrative building around traditional, feminine items,” agrees Alice Gividen, fashion and beauty editor at trend consultancy WGSN. “‘Sexy’, skin-baring items like the miniskirt have found new context in a time where we can celebrate femininity and sexuality, in line with ‘fourth-wave’ feminism, and with the goal of simply dressing up for ourselves.”

Mary Quant sponsored by King’s Road is at the V&A, London, until 16 February 2020 (BBC)

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Why is jewellry important in fashion?

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Jewellery has the ability to add beauty and style to you and whatever ensemble you are wearing. Whether it is costume jewellry or fine jewellery it is the wearer’s delight as it further highlights their personality with the look that it adds to your ensemble. You’re all dressed up and on your way out when you glance in the mirror and realize… something is missing. The outfit is flawless and the shoes are perfect, and then you spot it: A gorgeous bib necklace will make you look even better in that dress! Whether you’re on a date with someone sweet or dressing to impress a potential boss, you can use statement je ellery to transform your wardrobe.

“Jewellery has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” — Elizabeth Taylor

The human love affair with all things sparkly has a long history Jewellery has always made a fashion statement.

Some of the earliest statement jewellery was found in Egypt. Collar necklaces, dangling earrings, and thick, cylindrical rings were all prevalent in Egyptian jewellery boxes.

The Romans loved their jewels too, but they preferred rings. These rings were made with heavy stones for winter and lighter, more delicate materials for the summer. Regardless of composition, the important characteristic of Roman jewellery was history, not value. As is the case today, in ancient Rome, a bauble could be priced higher if it had an illustrious history behind it.

Coco Chanel began creating her own elaborate jewellery in the 1920s, using crystal or coloured glass in varying sizes as the Egyptians had. Coco is often credited with popularizing the concept of “costume jewellery,” creating seasonal items that mixed real and imitation stones and pearls.

Vivenne Becker, an antique jewellery veteran, talks about “The Cocktail Style” in her book, Fabulous Costume Jewellery: History of Fantasy and Fashion in Jewels. Popular during the ’30s and ’40s, this jewellery era was all about big, jewellered rings, multi-strand pearl necklaces, and extensive use of gilt metal and rose gold. She describes “cocktail jewellery” as “bubbly and extravagant, like the alcoholic concoctions from which it took its name. It was assertive, bossy, jewellery to show off in.”

While making a statement in the ’50s meant throwing on a charm bracelet, jewellery in the ’60s had a bit more punch. Designer Paco Rabanne fully embraced statement jewellery, experimenting with cheap materials like plastic and PVC and using bright colours. He said, “I made jewellery for the alternative side of women’s personality, for their madness.”

It’s a crime to talk about statement jewellery without discussing the woman whose accessories always have something to say: Madeleine Albright. In her book, she tells the stories behind some of her favourite pins. In one tale, she recalls the first pin she wore to send an intentional political message. The pin was a gold snake wrapped around a branch, which she wore after being referred to as an “unparalleled serpent” by the Iraqi press. Dr. Albright still enjoys collecting pins, though she mentions she receives many as gifts

Modern day statement jewellery is big, bold, and full of many elements from previous decades. Today, we love pieces that incorporate the glitz and glam of the ’30s and ’40s, and the colours and materials of the ’60s. Most of all, we love statement jewellery’s eternal ability to make heads turn.

Fashion trends constantly evolve, but jewellery steadfastly remains an accessory that women turn to. Nothing can make an ensemble shine quite like jewellery can. It also makes the perfect statement for self-expression.

Jewellery changes the way your outfit ‘works’. Whether you wear an extravagant ring, or a simple necklace, a statement bracelet or subtle stud earrings, your choice of jewellery has the power to elevate your look to a whole new concept. In fact, fashion designers and jewellers have long since been working together to create various styles. Also, gemstones are no longer simply embellishments – they are pieces of art. Jewellery is definitely a big part of fashion. Here are some reasons why:

New look every day

Love your white shirt and end up wearing it too often? That’s ok! Make it look different each time with different jewellery! For a formal look, pair it with gold studs or drop earrings; for a Boho look throw on some chunky bangles and stack rings, or look casual and laid-back with tassel and pom pom earrings. You can also wear your pieces to match your mood.

Sparks conversations

Certain pieces are called conversation starters for a reason. Bold or quirky, intricate or chunky, such pieces of jewellery naturally draw attention and spark friendly discussions.

Accentuates your personality

Jewellery is a great way to express yourself, so select pieces that match your personal style and personality. It also allows your creativity and individualism to shine through and speak for themselves.

The biggest question probably is, how to choose jewellery that will complement your look, your mood and your personality. Also, how to style the pieces so they will enhance your wardrobe. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you dazzle!

Jewellery styling tips

. Define the focus of your look: jewellery or clothing?

When you start dressing, decide on this first. A simple outfit can be transformed into something spectacular with the right jewellery, or a statement piece. If the focus is on your clothing and it is bold, then choose small, subtle pieces as highlights, such as the Bliss solo stone bracelet with a mother of pearl.

Layer and stack

Experiment with layering your necklaces and stacking your earrings, rings and bangles! Mixing different lengths, shapes, textures and colours and seeing what works is a lot of fun! Layering necklaces of differing lengths can bring focus to your face. You can also stack rings in different gemstone colours or combine ear cuffs with hoops for an interesting look. Mixing your jewellery on your wrist can create a friendly jangle as you move your arm.

Experiment with mixing metals

Wearing a silver necklace? You don’t have to pair it with other silver jewellery as a rule. Contrast your pendant colour with its chain, or stack rings with different metal or gemstone colours. Try the same with your bangles and bracelets. If it looks good and makes you feel confident, just go with it!

Don’t follow trends blindly

Evolve your own style. Whatever accessory you choose, own it, flaunt it, be confident wearing it. Pick jewellery that suits your style, looks good on you and complements your colouring, and mostly, your personality.

Don’t overdo it

When you’re enthusiastic about jewellery, it’s easy to sometimes over-accessorise. So just watch out to make sure you’re not cluttering your look with excess. For instance, if you’re drawing attention to your neckline with a statement choker or layered necklace, don’t stack too many bracelets that compete for attention. Or, if you’re wearing bold pendant earrings, then a simple, matching necklace should be enough – or even no necklace.

How to match jewellery with your outfit

If you’ve ever been stuck wondering what jewellery to pair with which outfit, then this is for you! Just go with these handy hints:

Selecting jewellery

Consider where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, when selecting your jewellery If you’re dressing up for work and will be using your keyboard most of the day, avoid jangling bangles and hanging bracelets. Wear the longer, dressier earrings for formal events and parties and the more flamboyant pieces for casual outings.

Choose jewellery that

complements your skin tone

Jewellery is a great way to highlight your skin tone. Warm skin tones go well with yellow so gold is a good choice. Silver and white gold illuminate natural tones.

Pair busy patterns with

simple jewellery

You get a confused, gaudy look when you marry a busy print with loud, ornate jewellery.

Instead, consider simple, solid pieces.

Highlight your face with

earrings

If you want the spotlight on your face, then don a pair of statement earrings. Go for the flashy, glittering ones that make your eyes sparkle! Also, consider the shape of your face when choosing your earrings. For instance, studs and triangular earrings look best on an oval face.

– ToI

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From runways to red carpets, clogs are making a major comeback

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In case you haven’t noticed, clogs are having a moment – and we’re here for it. These ’90s “it shoes” have been popping up everywhere, from runways (Alaïa, Givenchy and Gucci to name a few), to social media, and even on the red carpet (Justin Bieber wore the Balenciaga Hardcrocs to the Grammy’s.) Although they may seem like a relic of the past, the folkloric footwear have been reimagined time and again with modern twists. This time around, designers chose rubber materials, unconventional colours and cozy textures as some of the ways to update the traditional style.

Even if your aesthetic isn’t all about the ’90s, clogs make the perfect shoes for any occasion they’re stylish and comfortable enough to wear all day long and easy to slide on and off. But they also add an interesting element to jazz up your outfits as the new season starts.

Whether you choose to pair them with a flowery dress or a pair of oversized jeans, there’s something about the quirky slip-ons that people can’t get enough of.

Clogs have emerged as one of the top footwear choices for pandemic living. They function like a slipper (comfortable and easy to get into), but with elevated style (and height) — and soles sturdy enough to wear for hours.

Doctors and nurses rely on them for long shifts, as do chefs and anyone else who stands at work all day.

They look cool, giving off equal parts art teacher, with-it parent, and fashionable ceramicist. Clogs are popular from the stylish ones worn by famous people to the hippie-ish ones preferred by men.

If you’ve seen a celebrity in clogs, chances are those clogs were from No.6. It’s the brand worn by Claire Danes, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Maya Rudolph, who wore several pairs in her Amazon show Forever.

Although No.6 clogs are no longer trendy, they’re not passé either. The brand has become so ubiquitous they’re practically canonized. Its clogs come in a bunch of different styles, including sexy high heels, flat heels and come in different colours and patterns .– Hello

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