Sri Lanka: to promote rice flour for biscuits and bread

Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte / LK. (gov) The Industrial Development Ministry with the co-operation of the Education Ministry of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is implementing a rice flour production promotion program to uplift locally produced rice consumption and to use rice flour in the production of biscuits and bread.

During the past several years, there was a rapid increase in local rice production. In 2008 it was a 7,5 percent increase compared to 2007. With the end of the war, rice supplies from the Eastern Province are already arriving into the market. By next year, rice from the North too would be available in the market.

Industrial Development Minister Kumara Welgama has decided to accelerate the Sahalata Multhena program which promotes rice flour products. By locally producting rice flour, the Government can minimize the foreign exchange it spends annually on wheat importation. The Government has spent 25’891 million Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) in 2007 for wheat importation and in 2008 it was 40’563 million LKR.

The main objective of the Sahalata Multhena program is to maintain a fixed price for rice in the market minimizing the large amount of foreign exchange spent annually on wheat flour and to improve the nutrition level of the people. Opportunities would also arise for the promotion of the processed food industry and also for the creation of new employment opportunities.

An inter-ministerial committee has been appointed to achieve these objectives. The committee met at the Industrial Development Ministry under the patronage of Ministry Secretary R.V.D. Piyathilake and future plans of the Sahalata Multhana program were discussed. Government institutions, welfare organizations, like the Maubima Lanka Foundation, Bakery Owners Association and Rice Manufacturers´ Association have joined hands with the Industrial Development Ministry for this program.

The Industrial Development Ministry with Maubima Lanka Foundation has made arrangements to hold a commercial level workshop on 100 percent rice flour bakery products at the Ceylon Continental Hotel under the patronage of Industrial Development Minister Kumara Welgama. The Health Ministry has also planned to implement several programs on the use of rice flour parallel to World Food Day which falls on October 16.

Bakery owners in Sri Lanka have also shown a special interest in the production of rice flour bread and short eats. They also point out that there is a high demand for such products in the market. Bakery owners have requested the Government to provide them with facilities to increase rice flour food production instead of the large scale bakery foods production which was done with wheat flour.

About: Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; known as Ceylon before 1972 and as Taprobane in ancient times, is an island country in South Asia, located about 31 kilometres off the southern coast of India. It is home to around twenty million people.
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