Mar 14, Colombo: Sri Lanka today donated 50,000 metric tons of rice to the World Food Program (WFP) as proposed by the President in the 2014 Budget.
At a ceremony held Friday at the Presidential Secretariat Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the rice consignment to the country director of World Food Program, Ismail Omer.
Sri Lanka made the donation to the WFP as appreciation for the assistance given by WFP in the past to feed displaced people affected by internal conflict, tsunami, and various other natural disasters, the government said.
President Rajapaksa has proposed in the 2014 budget to donate 50,000 MTs of rice to the WFP appreciating their assistance, providing food for the needy people who are faced with similar situations in other countries and strengthening the relationship with the WFP.
The government has spent more than Rs.3 billion for the donation of 50,000 MT of rice to the WFP. Of the total, 10,000 MT will be donated for local programme and the remaining 40,000 MT will be provided to the member countries of the WFP.
Announcing the donation, the government noted that Sri Lanka has transformed from a rice recipient country under the WFP to a donor country in achieving self-sufficiency in rice.
According to the Finance Ministry, Sri Lanka has reported its highest paddy production in 2013 with 4.6 million MT.
The government attributes the successful yield to the effective use of its policies such as continuous implementation of the fertilizer subsidy programme since 2005, providing a higher guaranteed price for paddy, cultivation of un-used paddy lands and providing cultivation loans at concessionary interest rates while exceeding the level of self-sufficiency.
The Sri Lankan government has already applied to register as a commercial supplier of rice under the WFP and the WFP has extended its fullest cooperation to the government in this regard. It would open a new pathway for Sri Lankan suppliers to supply surplus rice production to international markets, the Ministry said.
The WFP has also agreed to provide technical assistance to improve the quality of Sri Lankan rice production. This would help the local rice producers to produce high quality rice with international standards, while improving the competitiveness of local rice producers and allowing local consumers to consume high quality rice.
Ministers Basil Rajapaksa and Johnston Fernando, Deputy Minister Neomal Perera and Secretary of the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundera also participated in the occasion.
(Photos by Udesh Gunarathna)