Thursday, November 21, 2013

Govt. to give away 50,000MT of rice to World Food Program! Is it a case of Baked Beans?

Do any of you remember the containers of Baked Beans that we received as food aid at the time of the Tsunami? They were lying around with people for years! Many of the tins then even passed the use by date. That was because even if we were hungry, we refused to eat Baked Beans. I like baked beans so I had no problem, but the people despite their hunger did not want to eat it. They were cooked and so only had to be heated, and so a quick nutrition to relieve hunger.

I presume those who read this blog were not so affected, so they may not realize this little point about baked beans. Nevertheless the Govt. has decided in the budget to give 50,000Tonnes of rice stock, and I am sure they will try to palm of the red rice in their stores to WFP (The World Food Program) to send to countries which the WFP supports with food aid.

I have no problem with giving this aid, as we currently have an excess of rice which we do not appear to be able to dispose of and which we cannot export, because the rice consuming nations do not want our varieties of rice. So my question is if it is the Baked Beans saga in reverse? Will the recipient of this rice, know how to cook it and will they eat it without complaint?

If people in other countries are sufficiently hungry they will probably not mind eating this rice. It is certainly not spoilt stuff, but the way it is cooked is not always apparent to those who do not cook our rice varieties and so may put too much water, and not wash the rice first etc.

I don’t know of a country that mentions disposing of food aid in kind, in the budget unless it is an increase in the budget allocations for Aid.

Let us hope we have a whole new concept of Agriculture in Sri Lanka, not in import substitution, like growing the most useless crop known to mankind, namely potatoes that ruin the environment and cause enormous soil erosion, but educate our little children to eat smart, an learn to savor at least 20 of the 100 varieties of legumes that are grown in Sri Lanka, so we will always be able to feed out people no matter if we have a drought or flood that may affect the principal rice crop.

It is visionary, thinking outside the box leadership that we want, similar to the strategy that won the war, we must win the peace with a similar frame of mind. Let us hope the Govt. starts a new chapter chastened by the horrors of CHOGM 2103. 

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