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Dakshina Kannada researcher comes up with arecanut soap, mouthwash

Raviprasad Kamila

P. Shankar Bhat Badanaje uses tannin extracted from tender arecanut

— PHOTO: RAVIPRASAD KAMILA

Discovery:P. Shankar Bhat Badanaje displays tannin powder extracted from tender arecanut.

VITLA (DAKSHINA KANNADA): A farmer-cum-researcher, who had earlier made wine and soft drinks from arecanut, has now come up with more value-added products such as toilet soap, mouthwash and skin ointment.

P. Shankar Bhat Badanaje's discovery assumes significance in the backdrop of a looming threat of a down fall for the arecanut market, following an interim order of the Supreme Court banning the sale of gutka, pan masala and tobacco in plastic pouches from March, 2011. As arecanut is prominently used in gutka and pan masala, growers are worried over the consequences of this order on the market.

Study

Mr. Badanaje makes these products from the tannin extracted from tender arecanut which is free from alkaloids that are carcinogenic. He supports his argument with a study on arecanut done by two scientists of the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (formerly Regional Research Laboratory), Council of Industrial and Scientific Research, Thiruvananthapur am.

The study on the chemical composition of arecanut at different stages of maturity says that there were no alkaloids in tender arecanut.

Tender mature arecanut had 0.06 per cent of alkaloids. Green ripe nut had 0.14 per cent, semi ripe nut 0.20 per cent and ripe arecanut had 0.22 per cent alkaloids in it. Mr. Bhat has recorded the findings of the study in a book Arecanut, Medicinal and Alternative Uses compiled by him and published by Arecanut Research and Development Foundation.

Allegation

Ramesh Kaintaje, a member of the committee which re-worked the production cost of areca nut for the State Government recently, told The Hindu that the main allegation against gutka and pan masala was that they were carcinogenic. Ripened areca (or areca fruit) is used in those products. Since tender areca is free from alkaloids, Mr. Badanje's products would not cause cancer, Mr.Kaintaje said.

Conference

Mr. Badanaje said that he would display all his products of areca nut at a conference organised by the Central Plantation and Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod, under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, on February 28.

Paper presentation

He said that he will also present a paper on “value-added products from areca nut” at the conference.

Mr. Badanaje said that he succeeded in making fine tannin powder from tender areca. Areca tannin now fetches Rs. 2,000 per kg in the market. Industrial exploitation of areca tannin would show a new direction for arecanut market, he said.

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