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Sunday, 21 September 2008

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ITI develops rice varieties to address health problems

The Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) together with the Regional Rice Research Development Centre, Bombuwala are developing nutritional and functional properties of traditional and improved rice varieties to address the national health problems under a treasury funded project.

An ITI official said that the research has already started and the objectives of this project are selecting rice varieties with high iron and low phytate content to develop rice varieties with high iron and low phytate content, develop rice varieties having a low Glycemic Index (GI) to prevent diabetes, improve the antioxidant value of rice and identifying the most suitable rice varieties in Sri Lanka.

A data base will be available soon under the first phase of the study which includes data on physico chemical, functional and sensory properties,as well as soil and plant data of all rice varieties - traditional and developed in Sri Lanka.


Pic by Amila Chandrasiri

This will be useful for scientists, breeders and agriculturists and the public, said the official. The study identifies varieties having the best nutritional and functional properties and those varieties will be used for the enhancement of the functional characteristics of rice through bio fortification or breeding.

Rice varieties

The rice varieties developed under the project will be released to the farmers by the Regional Rice Research Development Centre, Bombuwala as practised now after following the standard procedures. The official said that the aim of the project is to make the rice varieties with developed functional properties to reach consumers at normal prices prevailing in the market.

Rice is the staple food of Sri Lanka and it is grown in about 900,000 hectares producing three million mts. It is the staple food of Sri Lankan households. Therefore, attempts to improve its nutritional and functional properties will directly benefit the people.

So far no organised research has been carried out in Sri Lanka to enhance the properties of rice varieties in Sri Lanka. She said that Iron deficiency has been identified as a major health problem in Sri Lanka and is the main cause of anemia. Anemia is a national problem in the country.

It is defined as a condition with lowered oxygen carrying capacity of blood where the haemoglobin content of the blood is below the established cut off levels.

This condition results in low working capacity, low birth weights, and reduced immunity to infections. As rice is the staple food of Sri Lankans rice will be used as an effective vehicle to enhance the iron consumption of people under this project. The average iron content of Sri Lanka's rice varieties is about 2(c)3 mg/100g.

Studies have shown that traditional rice varieties have a higher iron content than improved rice varieties. Rathal, Rathu Heenati and Sudu Heenati contain a comparatively higher iron content. The bio availability of iron to the human body is reduced by the presence of a constituent called Phytate which binds iron.

Major objectives

One of the major objectives of this program is to select rice varieties with high iron and low phytate content having satisfactory sensory properties and nutritional value for breeding to develop rice varieties with high iron and low phytate content.

Rice protein is an important source of nutrition providing about sixty per cent of our daily protein requirement. The protein content of rice is relatively low. However, due to the high quantity consumed by people; the amount of rice protein potentially available to people is high. The rice protein is recognised to be uniquely nutritious with a good component of sulphur containing amino acids and its hypo allergenic factors.

There is a variation in rice protein content in various locations due to soil and climatic conditions. Traditional rice varieties contain a higher amount of protein compared to the improved varieties.

The protein content of traditional rice varieties vary from 8% to 13% while it is 6% to 11% in improved varieties. Traditional varieties such as Pachchaperumal, Rathal, Dahanala, Katamanjal and improved varieties such as Bw 272(c) 6b, at 307, at 306 show higher protein contents.

The second objective of the ongoing research study is to develop rice varieties having a low Glycemic Index (GI) targeting the diabetic or the diabetic prone population. Starch is the main component of rice. It mainly constitutes amylose and amylopectin. The Amylose content in Sri Lanka's rice varieties vary from 25(c)30% except for a few low amylose varieties. Rice varieties containing more than 25% amylose is referred to as high amylose varieties which shows a low glycemic index.

GI is the amount of glucose released to the blood within a specified time period after consuming a particular food. When low GI food is consumed, it slowly releases glucose to the blood. High amylose rice is beneficial to diabetic people. This program intends to select rice varieties with low GI and further develop incorporating other sensory and nutritional characteristics.

The dietary fiber in rice has an influence on GI. When the amount of dietary fiber is high, the food is a low GI food. Unpolished rice contains 4(c)6% dietary fiber and polished rice has one-third of it. Therefore, it is more beneficial to consume rice with bran. When we take a high dietary fiber diet, it digests slowly. Therefore, it also reduces the food intake.

The third objective of the study is to improve the antioxidant value of rice. Antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Anthocayanin pigments are found in the rice bran. Reactions of free radicals that are formed in the body are known to contribute to many health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Antioxidants present in certain food if taken appropriately reduce bad effects of free radical reactions and related diseases.

ongoing study

The ongoing study has identified rice varieties containing such antioxidants and it is aimed at developing such varieties with acceptable sensory and nutritional properties.Rice is mainly consumed as whole grain and processed rice products are derived from brown rice, milled rice, brokens, dry milled flour, wet milled flour and rice starch.

Rice is used to produce gluten free rice bread, noodles, baby foods, crackers, breakfast cereals, rice milk and beverages. Such processed rice products are very popular in South East Asian countries such as Thailand and China where rice is grown in large quantities.

The official said that physicochemical properties of rice such as amylose content, pasting behaviour and gelatinisation temperature are important in determining the quality of processed rice products. These physicochemical characters are inherent to rice varieties.

The fourth objective of this study is to identify the most suitable rice varieties in Sri Lanka for processed rice products. The ITI has identified that high amylose rice varieties are suitable for rice noodles. ITI has also conducted research to find out the suitable varieties for rice bread and breakfast cereals, said the official. SG


ESG for textile and apparel industry launched

Infinite Computer Solutions, a global service provider of infrastructure management, intellectual property leveraged solutions and IT services launched the Enterprise Solutions Group (ESG) for the textile and apparel industry in Sri Lanka.

Infinite is the business and implementation partner for Datatex Textile ERP in India, South Asia and Australia.

Head ESG, Guruprasad S. Rao said with the launch of the services Infinite envisages that its IT and Business Consulting initiative will add value to the apparel industry in Sri Lanka.

"Since the apparel industry involves a large manpower Infinite's initiative will have a major socio-economic impact in the country", Rao said.

The company also launched the Safe Passage Program to help apparel and textile companies to shift to Datatex from generic solution with a minimal investment.

Infinite has developed expertise in the apparel and textile sector during the past four years with 14 implementations in India, China, Bangladesh and Italy.

Datatex Textile ERP solution enables apparel and textile manufacturers to increase productivity by addressing issues pertaining to planning, merchandising, sales, materials, manufacturing, costing and business intelligence.

Infinite which was set up seven years ago has a turnover of over US$ 150 million.

The company has offices in the United States, Europe, Singapore and Japan.

LF


Toshiba's e-Studio Solutions, the pulse setter

A new breed that pushes the technological advantage and functional ease way beyond has just hit the market. Characteristically, Toshiba, is the pulse setter.

The e-Studio Solutions suite, is a multitude of easy to use cost saving software tools that enhance the functionality of the studio hardware to the highest levels of performance.

John Keells office Automation (Pvt) Ltd., expects these to create the next wave of high performance office applications which will revolutionise the way we work, said Vice President/CEO, Chandima Perera.

The Toshiba solutions suite includes the following:

Toshiba e-BRIDGE Re-Rite is a unique OCR solution that integrates with Toshiba MFPs to enable a one-touch automatic OCR and conversion of paper documents into editable digital documents that can be sent to shared network folders, email addresses or FTP sites.


SLTnet goes 3G

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) upgraded its international internet backbone. SLTnet, the internet arm of SLT, the largest internet service provider (ISP) in Sri Lanka today offers up to 3 Giga bits per second (Gbps) international internet bandwidth, adding even more capacity to be of better serve to the nation.

SLT has direct connectivity to Global ISPs in Asia, Europe and USA and the highest rated social networking, web application and video service providers in the world. This is part of the company's drive to cater to the internet users' needs by providing faster access to information at any time, any where and on any device via its Next Generation Network (NGN) architecture.

With this initiative, SLT provides internet users in Sri Lanka super fast access to online web applications such as web search, web mail, calendar, images, VoIP calling applications, audio, video and maps among a host of other most popular features on the internet. SLT is also in the process of further upgrading and improving the direct connectivity with social networking, web application and video service providers as and when the need for broader bandwidth arises.

SLT Chairperson, Leisha De Silva Chandrasena said, "Today the internet market is rapidly developing. There has been an increase of internet traffic in Sri Lanka, which has been a considerable investment for SLT over a period of time.

Also we see that the demand for Broadband in Sri Lanka is on par with global trends. Taking this into account, we want to provide a quality internet experience to Sri Lankan internet users.


hSenid launches Total HR Outsourcing Services

hSenid with over a decade of solid experience stands out from the rest as the most promising name for total HR solutions in Sri Lanka.

As a company which goes for innovation and change, hSenid launched its latest offering - Total HR Outsourcing Services.

The services cover many areas such as a web based enterprise-class human resource solution specifically catered to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) at an affordable monthly rental, total HR department outsourcing where all HR activities will be taken care of by hSenid and also Payroll outsourcing where companies can hand overall payroll processing tasks to hSenid.

"You don't face the capital expenditure involved in buying hardware and software and upgrading it every few years or issues connected with operational activities of an HR or payroll department.

We will take care of those worries for you," said founder and CEO Dinesh Saparamadu. hSenid's latest offering "Total HR Outsourcing Services" was launched in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and Chennai, India.

The initiative by hSenid incorporates, the latest global trend which is popularly known as SaaS (Software as a Service) and also the facility of outsourcing your total HR department activities. SaaS is a model that enables the software deployment in which applications are hosted by a service provider to customers via the internet for a monthly subscription.

The services provided by hSenid will be available in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. hSenid being the leader in HRIS solutions in Sri Lanka with over 70% corporate market share is the only solution provider in Sri Lanka which covers over 18 industry sectors in HR, Payroll and Attendance solutions with a customer base of over 550 companies worldwide.

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