By Shezna Shums
The demand for rice flour is growing beyond the supply as there are only two rice flour mills in the country at present supplying the Sri Lankan market.
Assistant Governor - Central Bank of Sri Lanka W. K. Karunaratne made this observation following the Bank’s initiative to promote the use of rice flour among bakeries in the Island.
Karunaratne stated that following the Bank’s drive to increase the use of rice flour by bakeries, there is a significant increase in its use.
The Central Bank however is urging the bakery owners to indicate in the items sold the quantities of wheat and rice flour that is put in, so that the public can be better informed and this in turn will create a better demand for rice flour based food items.
Karunaratne stated that considerations are underway to put out advertisements that indicate the formula of wheat flour to rice flour to be used when making bread and other bread based items.
When higher percentages of rice flour is used, water has to be added to the mixture at least 20 minutes prior to the dough being mixed to ensure the correct consistency,” stated Karunaratne.
Currently 40 percent of rice flour can be mixed with 60 percent of wheat flour to make a loaf of bread. “Bread can also be made with a higher percentage of rice flour but 40 percent of rice flour is advised for now.”
“Bread can be made with up to 70 percent with rice flour, but at the moment we are promoting up to 40 percent use of rice flour,” explained Karunaratne.
It was also stated that one rice mill supplying rice flour indicates a higher demand than they can supply.
As bread made solely with rice flour does not rise adequately certain enzymes have to be put in to ensure that the loaf of bread rises to look like wheat flour made bread. Demand for these food enzymes are also on the increase.
“Some bakery owners do not like the idea of increasing rice flour use for bread making however the Central Bank is working with the bakeries that are willing to use more quantities of rice flour in their products.
Other products such as noodles and some ready-made food items are also being made with rice flour to ensure a healthier alternative than using solely wheat based products.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is promoting the use of rice flour among the public over the use of wheat flour in order to ensure a healthier alternative and also to create a demand for rice flour in the country. The demand for rice flour is encouraged as Sri Lanka predicts higher yields of rice with more paddy cultivations coming up around the Island in the coming years as peace prevails.
Meanwhile despite news of arsenic contamination in the ground and water in some areas around the island, which was highlighted by academics The All Ceylon Bakery Owners Association N. K. Jayawardena says that there is no drastic change in the demand for bread and other bread products.
The demand for bread is the usual that we see even during other months,” said Jayawardena.