Business Times

Central Bank steps into assist rice-based industries

By Sara Miskin

Rice-based industries are to be promoted by the Mawbima Lanka Foundation under the patronage of the Central Bank and two state banks with the aim of encouraging industrialists to use excess rice for the production of value added products.

Bandara Industrial Services (Pvt) Ltd, Veyangoda has introduced its rice flour to the market under the brand name Healthy Fla at a ceremony held at the BMICH in Colombo on Thursday. Journalists were given an opportunity to taste rice-based food items prepared by using 'HealthyFla' at the event.

The rice flour is being milled at the Bandara Industrial Services state-of-the-art rice flour milling factory in Veyangoda. The Central Bank has provided financial assistance to set up the factory under its Viskam Loan Scheme.

HealthyFla, specially manufactured for bakery, confectionary and biscuit industry, is based on 100% specially selected best quality Sri Lankan rice varieties milled at desired temperature with latest state -of-the-art milling technology in maximum hygienic conditions, thus it contains no artificial chemicals or additives.

The much dependant wheat flour which is normally used to prepare bread, pastries, cake and other wheat flour products can now be made with rice flour as well, officials of the company said. During the event a set of food items which were on display showed various percentages of rice flour being added to prepare the bread such as 65%, 50%, 30% and 20%. Since rice flour is free of Gluten (a protein composite which gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture), wheat flour is also added up to an extent.

The shelf life of the product is around three months when it is stored in a cool and dry place, because of its low moisture content, officials of the company said. The investment for the project was over Rs. 30 million and almost 20 employees serve the company on a permanent basis. The aim of this initiative is to maintain a stable paddy price for farmers, saving foreign currency spending for the import of wheat flour while promoting, manufacturing and exporting of rice based food. Minister of Construction and Housing Wimal Weerawansa who was the chief guest launched the website of HealthyFla on the occasion.

Sri Lanka spent Rs. 29,769 million to import wheat flour last year. Although the campaign to discourage wheat flour consumption launched as early as 1996, it has failed to produce the desired results, industry sources said.

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