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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.




Govt urged to unlock true potential of Sri Lanka’s Blue Economy



=Take initiatives to reap maximum benefit from our seafood resource

=Fisheries sector can quickly generate employment and export earnings

=Modernizing fisheries sector is a collective responsibility of the government

by Sanath Nanayakkare

Championing the Blue Economy is a relatively easy way out for Sri Lanka to generate employment and export earnings as Sri Lanka can hardly become an industrialized nation, Shiran Fernando, President- Canned Fish Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka. (CFMASL) told the media last week.

“Concerted efforts need to be made to reap long-term benefits of the sustainable use of marine resources to promote economic growth and come out of the current economic crisis. Facilitating extensive fish farming, proper handling/storage, keeping the catch quite fresh for processing would be key in achieving this goal. The whole government should spearhead this endeavor without leaving the task to the Ministry of Fisheries alone. The fisheries ministry is hard put to find funds despite its willingness to help the private sector to take the industry to the next level. There is a role for the government to play in this exercise which the private investors can’t,” he said.

The outspoken entrepreneur said that the fisheries sector is not getting the attention it deserves from the government although the Minister of Fisheries and the Ministry Secretary are passionate about the industry and are supportive of the private sector investors.

“What we say is; it’s the duty of the government to modernize the practices of this industry by helping the fisher folk to completely transform their way of catching fish by enforcing regulations for responsible fishing, guiding them on protecting the marine ecosystem and providing them with modern fishing vessels with refrigeration technology. They still go out to see on old boats and can’t carry enough ice for fish preservation, therefore, a lot of fish is found to be less than perfect and is diverted for making dried fish. The government should invest in and encourage key innovations in fisheries such as modern boats, nets and cooling systems through appropriate financial arrangements or cluster schemes to fully utilize the catch. You may not be able to get everyone on board such projects, so get as many fisher folk as possible to join such schemes and get them to engage in the industry in a sustainable way with a long-term view. As canned fish manufacturers, we have fulfilled the pledge we made a few years ago that we would manufacture enough canned fish to meet the nation’s requirement. Currently 250,000 canned fish are consumed per day in the country. Now 5 factories of our Association produce 300,000 units of canned fish per day exceeding the daily requirement. Although the consumption had dropped in September-October last year, now it has stabilized with prices coming down. We thank the ministry for increasing the Special Commodity levy (SCL) by Rs. 100 on imported canned fish. We don’t ask the government to stop canned fish imports. Let the Sri Lankan consumers eat imported canned fish if they want to pay more. However, when you import the product that can lead to unemployment and underutilization of our seafood resource,” he said.

Fernando insisted on monitoring and regulating of canned fish companies that don’t carry SLS standards to create awareness in consumers and encourage them to buy local canned fish made in compliance with standards.

He said that his company’s (TESS Group of Companies) operations at currently inoperative Oluvil Harbour would begin soon.

“Our operation there will commence with over Rs 20 million spent on refurbishing the cold storage and factory that TESS Group built there long ago. Since this harbor has not been used for 12 years now, the harbor mouth needs re-dredging. If the government intervenes and does the needful, the area will be more viable for commercial fisheries and will create sustainable livelihoods opportunities for people in the area.”

He noted that if the government supports their Association for value added re-exports of canned fish, they can import raw fish and repack it as fillet fish Flounder (used in fish and chip recipes), Salmon fillet, Anchovy fillets etc., and thus supply to the high-end segment of the global market and increase the country’s export earnings.

“Sri Lanka is doing certain things right in the fisheries sector. We are on the right path, but we urge the authorities to pay more attention and adopt strategies to maximize the use of its vast oceanic resources,” he said.

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ComBank upgrades Q+ Payment App to introduce ‘Send Money’ fund transfers facility



The Q+ Payment App, another state-of-the-art product of Commercial Bank of Ceylon, which uses a cutting-edge technology, has scaled new heights in technology-enabled convenience with the addition of several new features that enable different methods of fund transfers and flexible payment scheduling options similar to standing orders.

Customers who have linked their Commercial Bank cards to the Q+ Payment App can now send money to another locally-issued Visa and Mastercard Debit, Credit or Prepaid card, to a Commercial Bank or other local bank account or to any Payment Exchange Name (PEN) through any LankaPay-registered mobile number, directly from their registered cards in the App.

Notably, the Card-to-Card funds transfer feature is the first of its kind to be implemented via a payment application in Sri Lanka and is operated via the ‘Visa Direct’ and ‘Mastercard Send’ card-based fund transfer facilities. This user-friendly, two-step fund transfer method can be executed simply by keying in the card number of the recipient and the desired amount, the Bank said. Similarly, the Card-to-Account feature is equally convenient as the sender is require to select the recipient’s bank and then type the account number and amount to conclude the fund transfer. Q+ Payment App has also enabled a favourites tab to store recipient card and account particulars to perform future transactions even more conveniently.

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Kala Pola 2023 Open-Air Art Fair celebrates 30 years of promoting visual art in Sri Lanka



Kala Pola, Sri Lanka’s annual open-air art fair, will celebrate 30 years of enhancing livelihoods of Sri Lankan artists in an enthralling atmosphere along Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, also known as Green Path, on 19th February 2023. As Sri Lanka’s pioneering and best-known visual art fair inspired by the world-famous outdoor art fairs in Montmartre Paris and the Turl Street Art Festival in Oxford, Kala Pola 2023 will bring together various art enthusiasts from across the Island, creating a vibrant platform for artists to showcase their art to a large and enthusiastic audience.

Conceptualised and launched by the George Keyt Foundation (GKF) in 1993 and nurtured by the unbroken patronage of the John Keells Group since 1994, Kala Pola strives to elevate the visitor experience each year whilst seeking to include more artists and attract more visitors, thereby generating greater income for the artists.

Nadija Tambiah, President Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Group said, “Kala Pola is a primary initiative in John Keells Foundation’s efforts to promote and nurture Sri Lanka’s Arts & Culture.

Through its three-decade existence, Kala Pola has focused on delivering an uncurated, vibrant platform for Sri Lankan artists – whether senior established artists or emerging artists – effectively forming the base of John Keells Group’s roadmap for fostering Sri Lanka’s Arts & Culture.”

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