Project Inception Workshop on ‘Food Loss Mitigation in Mango and Tomato Value Chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka’
05 October 2022
The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, and The Open University of Sri Lanka, organised the Inception Workshop of the project ‘Food Loss Mitigation in Mango and Tomato Value Chains in Pakistan and Sri Lanka’ on 05 October 2022 at the Dr Saman Kelegama Auditorium, IPS. The project forms part of the newly created Food Loss Programme, a partnership between the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The Project Inception Workshop presented the viewpoints of key stakeholders on food loss management in fruits and vegetable value chains in Sri Lanka. Speaking at the plenary session, IPS’ Executive Director, Dr Dushni Weerakoon noted that Sri Lanka is among the top four countries experiencing high food inflation. She noted that adopting strategies to attain self-sufficiency in food in the long term is not an economically feasible option for countries such as Sri Lanka. She emphasised that in such a context, food loss mitigation plays an important role in strengthening food security and expressed optimism on the contribution of robust evidence and valuable insights from this project into the policymaking process.
The Chief Guest at the event, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka, Ms Amanda Jewell, remarked that the Food Loss Programme is a true celebration of partnerships among ACIAR, IDRC and the local experts at a time when Australia and Sri Lanka are celebrating 75 years of bilateral relations. She added that the programme is launched at a critical time when Sri Lanka is amidst a severe economic crisis.
An introduction to the ACIAR Food Loss and Agribusiness Programme was given by Mr Howard Hall, Programme Manager Agribusiness at ACIAR. In his remarks, Mr Hall highlighted that real-time data forms a significant area of food loss research. He explained that the Food Loss Programme, a field research-driven programme, would be able to bridge academic and policy gaps in the food loss field.
Director-Agriculture Sector at the Department of National Planning, Mr Rohitha Wickramarathna, emphasised that the government and the private sectors have combined responsibilities to implement different strategies to mitigate the effects of food insecurity in Sri Lanka. He discussed examples from Thailand and Vietnam, where successful partnerships among the academia, the private sector and the government play a major role in strengthening the agricultural industry.
IPS Research Fellow Dr Erandathie Pathiraja moderated the technical session of the workshop. The session included presentations by Dr Thushanthi Perera, Senior Lecturer at the Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Ms Punya Nanayakkara, Board Member, Lanka Fruit and Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association/Director, Nelna Agri Development Pvt Ltd, Dr Ilmi Hewajulige Additional Director General at the Industrial Technology Institute and Dr W A R T Wickramaarachchi, Additional Director at National Plant Quarantine Service, Sri Lanka. In the final session, IPS Research Fellow Dr Manoj Thibbotuwawa presented an overview of the project. This was followed by a Question-and-Answer session moderated by Dr Thibbotuwawa, with Dr Anwar Shah, Associate Professor of Economics at Quaid-Azam University, Pakistan and Dr Thilak Mallawarachchi, Associate Professor at the School of Economics, The University of Queensland, Australia in attendance.