Government’s Policy On Restricting Wheatflour Imports If Beyond Hearsay Could Be More Harmful Than Meritworthy!
Posted on November 11th, 2010

Insight By Sunil Kumar

Nov.10, 2010
Latest reports coming out of Sri Lanka that “a Sri Lankan Government campaign against bread and other wheat products appear to be causing many anxieties in many communities worrying about what will happen to their beloved loaf of bread as all Lankans know it and almost an iconic feature in the morning hours in cities, towns and villages where bread delivery is part and parcel of a tradition which has prevailed for centuries. It will surely force many out of gainful employment and already it has been reported that some 2,000 bakers are out of business and has left many workers in the industry worried about their existences according to sources affiliated to the bread manufacturing and wheat flour imports industry. The All Ceylon Bakery Owners’ Association has said that more than a quarter of bakers in the island had closed down this year because of high taxes and other government moves to discourage imported wheat which seems preposterous from many perspectives where the import of luxury items including vehicles to pamper the ministerial and other elite seems to be escalating and the poor man appears to be facing deprivation of a simple loaf of bread because some self styled policy maker has suddenly decided ( if this is the case!) that it needs to be implemented ~ for what whim and fancy heaven knows ?

 It seems somewhat incongruous that The government has intensified a campaign against bread, and according to association president N.K. Jayawardena said. “One minister has equated eating bread to “ƒ”¹…”terrorism’. which he suggests in his own words as being absurd.” The government has raised taxes on wheat imports twice in the past three months in a bid to discourage bread and encourage the consumption of locally-produced rice, the staple food in the island of 20 million people. Colombo argues that eating rice is healthier than consuming bread and other wheat-based products, which earlier this month it ordered should not be served at state hospitals, prisons and schools. Ironically the country, administered by President Mahinda Rajapakse, spent over 250 million dollars on wheat imports in 2009 and what seems to be the sudden change of policy towards an issue which has a lesser burdgeoning effect that other import items which aren’t even a daily necessity let alone its impact on the touristm industry? asks many discerning analysts!

There however appears to be some confusion on what the real truth of the matter is as a senior government official has been quoted as saying” there was no official ban on wheat, but the authorities were considering health and price factors as well as the need to dispose of surplus rice production.” This makes no real sense in the face of the hue and cry already on so might there be some other twist to this tale of bread unwinding one wonders?

The industry association president Jayawardena has also said bakers were lobbying government ministers and key officials in a bid to save thousands of jobs in the bakery and confectionery industry. The alternate concept suggested by certain ‘experts’ towards using rice flour to make bread is not a feasible one based on composition and texture and not at all conducive towards breadmaking of bread as the world knows it and the only other alternative would perhaps be bread made of various grains such as millet and corn etc.although even these would not have an edible consistency without being mixed in fair proportion with wheat flour and there the issue needs to be put to rest as very definitely bread is bread albeit of various forms and ingredients but certainly not from Rice! The quality of what is available alternatively is simply not good enough which in hindsight needs to be heeded and the rhetoric that bakery products were popular because they were more convenient than cooking rice is a myth as the process of bread manufacturing is far more intricate than cooking rice!! Bread is a universally popular as well as a staple item which has prevailed for time imemorial and simply cannot be phased out on the whims and fancies of a few misguided politicians!

Furthermore bread and bakery goods being a predominant part of Western diet at any given time of the day cannot be trifled with if the tourist industry is to be maintained as one of the nation’s main sources of income and such a move is certainly not going to impress the tourists who will be flocking into Sri Lanka in the very near future and looking for their favourite toast, croissants, sandwich bread and rolls et al as these are baked items using wheat flour so if the word gets around that there is an embargo on the main ingredient of breadmaking which could well be a deterrent with a disconcerting negative impacts on Sri Lanka that bread and other baked goods are hard to come by!

 Consequently the tourist influx which has been surging in recent times could easily be diverted to the luxury hotels of the Maldives where bread is readily available as are the delectable baked goods of wheat and grain

and this has to be food for thought for the pundits and their restrictive measures on wheat flour as one of the breadwinners of the nation’s economy could easily be snuffed out through the very indifference to bread by some whose insight into its importance appears hairbrained!

They probably never heard of that very proverbial sounding wassail “Roas Paang Kadey Nethath Nikang Paang Mehata Geneng !”which in a figurative sense albeit tongue in cheek sums it all up!

3 Responses to “Government’s Policy On Restricting Wheatflour Imports If Beyond Hearsay Could Be More Harmful Than Meritworthy!”

  1. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    We need to support the Govt if the real reason is to protect the SriLankan farmers. The USA is doing this by subsidising their wheat farmers. The Japanese are doing it by preventing the unrestricted import of rice. Many countries have similar programs to protect the interest of their people and economies. So why not help out SriLanka’s own growers of Rice, Kurakkan, Wheat and other cereals!

  2. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    But my dear Mr Sooriarachi we are talking about bread not the productivity of rice, kurakkan etc where your inference to wheat is inapplicable as it is not grown in SL.The Sri Lankan farmers have no hand in bread manufacture as their main crop is obviously rice and not an ingredient in the manufacture of bread!

  3. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Some of the world’s most popular diets including Atkins, South Beach and the Dukan Diet have urged followers to ditch bread and other carbs to slim down, while a rising number of celiac and gluten sensitivity sufferers have dropped bread in the name of health.

    Modern wheat — including whole wheat — has become so uniquely destructive to multiple body functions that more than 80% of us could benefit from giving it up all together. 50% of us could see and feel results almost right away.

    When traditional wheat was genetically altered to become semi-dwarf wheat in the last century, it was assumed, without any testing, that the modifications would not change the way it affected those who ate it.

    Those genetic changes could be responsible for the rise in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity we are seeing today. Unique compounds in wheat such as gliadin, amylopectin A and others as triggers of hunger, sharper blood sugar spikes, behavioral disorders and destructive inflammation.

    Thousands of patients effortlessly lost weight, relieved joint pain, eliminated their need for inhalers and improved their blood numbers with the simple removal of wheat.

    Genetically altered form of wheat has been transformed into such a destructive “food” that any amount has the potential to trigger undesirable consequences.

    Due to the overwhelming inflammation-triggering effect of wheat gluten and lectins, or the appetite-stimulating effects of the gliadin protein unique to wheat even reduction does yield benefits, just not as dramatic as elimination.

    Spelt is one of the evolutionarily older forms of wheat, along with kamut, emmer and einkorn. They are better, since they lack the most destructive proteins. However, the older forms of wheat can still trigger many of the same phenomena as modern wheat, just not as severely. They are better … but they are not good.

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