Sri Lanka, Bhutan sign agreements during MPs’ tour

Saturday, 12 October 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The delegation of the Sri Lankan Parliament that embarked on a Bhutan tour with the leadership of the Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa has returned to Sri Lanka after entering into a number of agreements to foster economic, social and cultural relations between the two countries. The Government of Bhutan had organised a special program to welcome the Sri Lankan delegation and a number of cultural shows had been organized for the delegates. MPs V.K. Indika, Ruwan Ranathunga, Ashoka Abeysinghe and Palitha Thewarapperuma and the Deputy Secretary General of Parliament took part in the delegation. The Sri Lankan delegation had met with the Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan Jigme Zangpo and the Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan Dr. Sonam Kinga and had engaged in discussions on a number of topics. Steps to be taken to strengthen bilateral relations including the current status and future trends of the SAARC, progress of SAPTA and progress of BIMSTEC, in which both Sri Lanka and Bhutan are members, too were taken up at the discussion. Furthermore, the delegation took a keen interest in red rice, spices and fruits produced by Bhutan during the time they spent in Bhutan. These food items which are produced without the use of any chemical fertiliser or pesticide were observed by the delegation. It was evident that this variety of red rice is very popular among the Bhutanese because no artificial fertiliser is added when cultivating this variety of rice and it is not affected by any disease. This variety of rice has a high nutrition value, but as it is mostly consumed domestically, its significance has not yet come to the attention of or drawn the interest of people outside of Bhutan. However, it is exported to developed countries in small quantities and those countries have been able to create a niche market for this variety of red rice by selling tablets made out of the bran. This variety of red rice has a higher nutrition value than the brown rice that is consumed in Asian Countries. This variety could be cooked within a very short period of time. The attention of the Speaker has been drawn to make the officials aware of the possibility of cultivating this very valuable variety of red rice in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan delegation observed that the use of artificial pesticides in agriculture is minimal in Bhutan and that most of the cultivations are carried out using organic fertiliser. As there is a huge demand for organic food in countries such as India and Bangladesh, the objective of the Bhutanese Government is to increase organic production of food by 100% before long and meet the demand for such food in those countries. The two parties engaged in discussions to exchange information about the art of ancient Buddhist paintings in Bhutan and in Sri Lanka in developing cultural ties between the two countries. In addition, the delegation observed the system of professional education related to handicraft and it was agreed to share information in this regard between the two countries.