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Sri Lanka faces triple-burden malnutrition: minister



National Food Systems Dialogue calls for collaborative action to transform country’s food systems

Despite Sri Lanka achieving middle-income status, the country is facing a triple burden of malnutrition spanning undernourishment, over-nourishment and micronutrient deficiency, Minister of Agriculture, Mahindananda Aluthgamage said.

He said so sending a message to the participants of the National Food System Dialogue held recently.

Noting that the agriculture sector is the main contributor of safe and nutritious food for all, the minister reiterated the importance of transforming food systems to make it profitable and socially inclusive with positive impacts on the natural environment. So that food security and nutrition for future generations would not be compromised.

The National Food Systems Dialogue was organised by the Ministry of Agriculture to identify challenges in building sustainable food systems in Sri Lanka, ranging from production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products.

Sri Lanka’s Food System Dialogue is part of a series of national and provincial dialogues conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture ahead of the 2021 UN Food System Summi tset to take place in New York later this year.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, said: “The Summit convened by the Secretary General — part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 — is an opportunity for Member States to identify their own pathways to sustainable food systems and take the necessary action to address these unique challenges. The Summit offers a timely process for helping policy makers and food system actors to better understand the impacts of alternative courses of action and strengthen partnerships and our capacity for collective action.”


The National Food System Dialogue — a high-level virtual meeting of stakeholders from the government, private sector, civil society organisations and development agencies focused on the major challenges affecting the agri-food system in Sri Lanka. The dialogue explored collective actions that are needed to ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all, shift to sustainable consumption patterns, boost environment-friendly production, advance equitable livelihoods across the food systems and build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stressors.

Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Vimlendra Sharan spoke on the need for establishing policy measures and legal frameworks that support sustainable food systems while safeguarding natural resources.  Calling for innovative solutions he said, “Solutions of yester-years can’t be the answers for tomorrow. The Food Systems Summit gives us an excellent opportunity to move on from paradigms of the past.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed extreme inequities and inefficiencies in the food system which depend on thousands of food producers and processors, many of whom are living with very low incomes.  The pandemic came at a time when food systems were already under strain from natural disasters such as floods and prolonged periods of drought, climate change, and the arrival of transboundary pests and diseases such as Fall Armyworm.”

“The pandemic, despite all its ensuing turbulence, brought about remarkable learning opportunities, demonstrating the importance of preparedness in building resilient food systems,” said Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, Representative and Country Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Sri Lanka. “These national dialogues provide an excellent platform for collective action in reviewing our existing systems, evaluating our options and charting a clear path forward for better food security and nutrition for all.”

“The Food Systems Summit is an opportunity to make fundamental changes in food systems that would make them more equitable and sustainable. IFAD is proud to support the Government of Sri Lanka and work with relevant stakeholders to put smallholder farmers and other rural people at the heart of this process. Leveraging multi-stakeholder partnerships can transform food systems,” said Sherina Tabassum, Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Sri Lanka.

The Food System Dialogues organized by the Government of Sri Lanka led by the Ministry of Agriculture is supported by the UN, FAO, WFP and IFAD. Independent dialogues are also being promoted for individuals and organizations to propose innovative pathways towards sustainable food systems.

The collective outcomes of the Food System Dialogues held in Sri Lanka will inform the UN Food System Summit which will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.




Sri Lanka all set for Expo 2020 Dubai



EXPO 2020 DUBAI is the latest edition of World Expos held around the world since 1851 and will be the first ever to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Sri Lanka will participate in the mega-event which commences in October (01st October 2021 – 31st March 2022) and is expected to attract over 25 million visitors to Dubai during its six-month run. One of the key facets of the Sri Lankan contingent will be the specially designed Pavilion which was officially handed over by the Dubai Expo team to Mr.Nalinda Wijerathna, Deputy Commissioner General Sri Lanka for Expo and Consul General of Sri Lanka to Dubai and the Northern Emirates on the 14th of September, 2021. Accompanying Mr.Nalinda Wijerathna at the handover was Mrs. Subashini De Silva, Second Secretary at the Sri Lankan Consulate in Dubai.

The pavilion with its water-based theme was designed by a team from the University of Moratuwa and has been recognized as one of the best designs at Expo 2020 Dubai. The pavilion showcases the hydraulic civilization in a touristic perspective bringing out the 3 positioning pillars of Authenticity, Compactness and Diversity while taking visitors on a journey through history, culture, nature, people, and many facets of the destination through storytelling to inspire and showcase Sri Lanka to the world. Silent display screens at the pavilion will feature the unique facets of the island in all its wonder and awe.

The Pavilion will be segmented into zones to represent the many diverse facets of Sri Lanka. Zone 1 will display a cross-section of Sri Lanka’s multiple dimensions, zone 2 will focus on the island’s unique Ecology, Biodiversity, and Ecosystems, while zone 3 will give participants an insight into the island’s awe-inspiring history with a display based on the Islands ancient kingdoms. Zone 4 is dedicated to Economy and Trade Development and zone 5 will showcase local craftsmen and artisans with a masked wall and retail area. The specially designed Pavillion is a breathtaking mix of heritage, history, local style, and the latest technology. This will give participants a glimpse of island life in all its splendor, helping create interest that will attract both visitors and investors. The entire experience is designed to be personal, immersive, and memorable, conveying the island’s warm, sunny personality and exotic character.

Speaking about this landmark event Ms. Kimarli Fernando – Chairperson SL Tourism and the Commissioner General Sri Lanka for Expo, had this to say. ‘Expo 2020 Dubai was an event that came to Sri Lanka Tourism at the eleventh hour!! Despite all constraints and barriers, we made it this far and created a global platform for Sri Lanka to be showcased at this international event. We have created tourism, trade and investment opportunities at Expo which we are sure will generate great growth avenues for Sri Lanka. We are also blessed with amazing partners and great support extended from Expo Dubai team. Sri Lanka Tourism is looking forward for a successful event in Dubai’.

Sri Lanka Tourism has built a collision in presenting Sri Lanka strong and vibrant at Expo 2020 Dubai in partnership with the Sri Lanka Embassy in UAE and the Consulate in Dubai, Gem & Jewelry Authority, Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Laksala, Board of Investment, Port City, Sri Lankan Airlines, and the National Chamber of Exporters. The event will provide an extraordinary opportunity for many organisations that make up the local contingent, including commercial opportunities that will enable a more robust and strengthened local economy. With over 190 countries participating in the event, there will be a wealth of interest in Sri Lanka’s unique arts, crafts, cuisine, and culture. Destination Sri Lanka will be telling its story through the creative use of song, dance, cultural events, and a host of strategically targeted programmes.

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Lower motor vehicle imports contribute towards narrowing 2020 trade deficit by approx. USD 2 billion



‘Since importation of motor vehicles into Sri Lanka takes a significant portion of the total import bill of the country, that is 3 per cent in 2020, reduction in motor vehicle imports contributed largely towards narrowing the trade deficit. Accordingly, the trade deficit contracted notably by around USD 2 billion in 2020, a Ceylon Chamber of Commerce press release, announcing the release of the latest Motor Vehicle Industry Report, covering key trends in 2019 and 2020, said.

The release:

This publication prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) provides a detailed analysis and overview of Sri Lanka’s motor vehicle Industry covering both 2019 and 2020. The report features the latest information on economic contribution of the industry, motor vehicle registration, ownership transfers, population, imports of motor vehicles (a detailed analysis by vehicle category and HS code), issuance of driving licenses, recent regulatory developments, the way forward and global motor vehicle industry.

The report highlights that both 2019 and 2020 were challenging years for Sri Lanka’s motor vehicle industry due to import restriction. As such, imports of motor vehicles recorded a notable decline during last two years, after experiencing a significant growth in 2018. Since importation of motor vehicles into Sri Lanka takes a significant portion of the total import bill of the country (3% in 2020), reduction in motor vehicle imports contributed largely to narrowing of the trade deficit. Accordingly, the trade deficit contracted notably by around USD 2 Bn in 2020 and this contraction was significantly contributed by the lowered motor vehicle imports during the year. The decline in motor vehicle imports resulted in loss of revenue to the government mainly due to fall in collection of excise duty and luxury tax. Due to the fall in imports, there was a 45% drop of motor vehicle new registrations. As such, total registrations of 2020, hit the lowest for the last decade and even lower than the registrations recorded in 2009, when the world experienced the global financial crisis.

To purchase a copy of the report (e-version), contact Saumya Amarasiriwardane, Senior Research Associate, Economic Intelligence Unit of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on 011-55-888-83/ or online through the Business Publications section of the CCC website (

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Sampath Bank commences restoration of 10th tank under ‘Wewata Jeewayak’ programme



The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the restoration of the Athawetuna Wewa under Sampath Bank’s Wewata Jeewayak initiative being exchanged between G. K. S. Pushpakumara, Assistant Commissioner - Puttalam District, Department of Agrarian Development (left) and Ravindra Gunawardena, Regional Manager, Sampath Bank.

Continuing to empower rural communities across the nation, Sampath Bank embarked on the restoration of the Athawetuna Wewa in Divulwewa, Anamaduwa under its flagship community outreach initiative, Wewata Jeewayak, recently. This is the 10th tank (wewa) in the country to be restored under the programme.

This is yet another timely initiative by the Bank to support the nation and empower its farming communities to overcome the challenges brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their lives.

The 20-acre Athawetuna Wewa is the primary source of irrigation for over 60 acres of paddy fields. It also plays a key role in animal husbandry and other livelihood development activities in the Divulwewa and neighbouring villages, serving over 500 people.

With no major maintenance work having been carried out for over 20 years, the Athawetuna Wewa’s bund has suffered considerable damage. Its waters have become shallow due to the accumulation of sludge. Its irrigation canal, sluice gates and spill too are in need of repairs. The current dilapidated state of the tank has limited paddy cultivation in the area to one season alone, thereby affecting the livelihoods of the entire community.

Sampath Bank will be working together with the Perakum Farmers Association (Perakum Govi Sanvidanaya); the Department of Agrarian Development, Puttalam District Office, Chilaw; and members of the local community to renovate the tank completely. Rituals were conducted to invoke blessings on the project and the community before members of the Farmers Association commenced work on it.

“At Sampath Bank, we have always appreciated the significance of tanks (wewa) built by our kings. Being instrumental in protecting the environment, they also enable farming and other economic activity in a sustainable manner. As a bank that takes great pride in our Sri Lankan roots, we seek to play an active role in restoring these invaluable treasures and have been working on restoring them through our ‘Wewata Jeewayak’ initiative. We have had the opportunity to transform the lives of thousands of families around the island through the programme,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “It us our privilege to partner with the people of Divulwewa and the Department of Agrarian Development on the renovation of the Athawetuna Wewa. Projects such as this are part of our ongoing efforts to empower all Sri Lankans to reach their true potential as we continue to present their future.”

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