Fearing shortage, Sri Lanka imports rice from Myanmar

May 22nd, 2008 - 6:52 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, May 22 (IANS) Building up a buffer stock to prevent a looming rice crisis, Sri Lanka is importing 7,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar and is hopeful 43,000 tonnes of rice would also be brought from that country in the near future. “A ship with 7,000 tonnes of rice left port in Myanmar on May 20 and is scheduled to reach Colombo harbour on May 27. We are hopeful of bringing another 43,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar as soon as possible,” Commerce and Consumer Affairs Ministry Secretary R.A.D. Ratnayake told IANS Thursday.

Ratnayake said initially the ship was being sent in late April but Myanmar was badly hit by Cyclone Nargis May 2 leading to the closure of the port in question.

In addition to looking to import rice from various countries, including India, the ministry was “bringing down 5,000 tonnes of red rice from the Vavuniya district, which includes the areas held by the Tamil Tiger rebels”, he said.

“So, all in all, we are slowly building up a buffer stock of 100,000 tonnes of rice to ensure that there is no rice shortage in the country throughout the year,” Ratnayake said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government is also taking steps to dispatch 20 tonnes of relief assistance to Myanmar and has urged its people to come to the aid of the cyclone victims in that country.

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