Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sri Lanka's food imports up despite government rhetoric on self-sustenance

(November 12, Colombo - Lanka PolityRhetoric of the Sri Lanka government to achieve self-sustenance through a a new green revolution named 'Let Us Cultivate and Develop the Country' is highly contrasted with some of the statistics revealed in the parliament last week.

According to information revealed in Sri Lanka Parliament by the Minister Bandula Gunawardane last week in response to a question by People's Liberation Front (JVP) MP for the Anuradhapura district Ranaveera Pathirana, the government imported 52,800,209 kilos of milk food accounting for 89.1 percent of local demand in 2005, but this amount had seen an increase up to 62,518,062 kilos last year.  It was 90 percent of the local requirement.

The country had imported 57 percent of its potato requirement in 2008, and it had been a sharp rise against 33.9 percent imported in 2005. In 2006, the government had imported 37 percent of the country’s potato requirement and 52.6 percent in 2007.

Big onions had recorded an import growth of 71.9 percent in 2008 in terms of local requirement, against 60.4 percent in 2007, 61.9 percent in 2006 and 66.6 percent in 2006.

In contrast to attempts to boost local agriculture, Chillie imports had also registered an increase, as a percentage of the local requirement, from 72 percent in 2007 to 73 percent last year. In 2005, the country had imported only 67 percent of its Chillie requirement and 69 percent in 2006.

However, the Trade Ministry information revealed that the sugar import had declined to 92.7 percent last year from 93.3 recorded the previous year.  The sugar import was 89.6 percent of the local needs in 2005, and 90.4 percent in 2006.

Asked for the reason for this situation, the Minister said the demand had risen locally leading to the increase in imports. He also put the 300,000 plus internally displaced persons from Tamil dominated Northern Province in account of this increase stating that their consumption was restricted earlier when they were in the clutches of the Tamil rebels.

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