Sri Lanka an island nation amidst a war ridden past; at present secures an economic status of a middle-income developing country, with a global hunger index of 25.5 categorizing Sri Lanka under the food insecurity level: serious. Development of a food secure nation with sustainable development goals which addresses; ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture is amongst its priority goals.

The biodiversity for food and nutrition project with the goal of mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and sustainable use for improved human nutrition and well being, implements through three major components; Knowledge base, Policy & Regulatory frameworks and Raising awareness & Out-scaling, to address the present concerns on securing national food security, sustainable and effective utilization of agro-biodiversity. BFN is a multi-national project implemented under the Global Environment Facility, facilitated by UNEP & FAO, executed in four countries including Brazil, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Kenya. In Sri Lanka the BFN project is implemented under the Ministry of Environment and executed by the Department of Agriculture.
At a national level BFN implements through multi-sectoral collaborations with cross-sectoral partners; implementing awareness programs, best practices, trainings and workshops at selected pilot sites and nationally. Effective policy mainstreaming tools and recommendations encompassing biodiversity, food and health been reviewed by policy consultants’ supported by BFN, in addition revisions in the NBSAP 2016-2022 completed with integration of BFN concerns and goals, reinforcing policies to suit the in-situ concerns of securing national food security through sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.

Nutritional composition analysis of traditional rice, cereals, pulses, root & tubers, vegetables & fruits of 58 varieties & land races of 28 species of priority, local agricultural species is underway, to produce the first ever-complete food composition tables composing a national nutrition database as a collaborative effort of the University of Peradeniya, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka and Department of Agriculture facilitated by the Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition Project under the guidance of the FAO (Food & Agriculture organization of the United Nations).
BFN a partner of the Hela Boujun food outlets have contributed towards establishment and well-being of the organization. Simultaneous efforts have been carried out to determine the nutrition composition of mixed dishes of traditional food items at Hela Boujun sales centres; Trainings have been carried out in regard to increasing local fruit and vegetable consumption through Hela Boujun sales centres with in cooperation of local food dishes elevated to restaurant quality cuisine to better appeal a wider consumer range. These efforts are aimed at the public to create awareness and inculcate trends amongst Sri Lankans on the concepts of calorie-based intake of food, nutrition labelling of processed food, formulation of therapeutic and institutional diets with emphasis on quality and quantity; highlighting the rich nutritional diversity amongst the traditional Sri Lankan dishes.

BFN enacts on promotion of utilization of agro-biodiversity for human nutrition
and establishment marketing strategies for nutrient rich, under-utilized, traditional crop varieties including local root & tuber crops. This program is being successfully carried out by BFN partners at the Community Development Centre (NGO) addressing conservation of fast disappearing, highly nutritious, local root and tuber crops -“Wel ala”. Addressing dissemination of knowledge and conducting trainings on cultivation of local root and tuber crops, promotion & introduction of local root & tuber crops into home gardens. The project also caters on emphasizing associated traditional knowledge & medicinal properties of local root & tuber crops; along with popularizing local recipes for production of novel food products utilizing local root and tuber crops; including kiri ala chips, mukkru, wal ala dodol, toffee & damdina ala porridge. A new marketing outlet has been opened with facilitation from the BFN project for sale of nutritious, local healthy food majority representing the food items prepared using local tuber and root crops
Addressing the wastage of vast numbers of under-utilized fruits in Sri-Lanka, production of under-utilized fruit RTS “ready to serve drink” and commercialization has been spear headed by the BFN project with the partners at the National Food Promotion Board. Highlighting the aim of using the under exploited potential of the fruit to contribute to food security, nutrition, health, income generation and environmental services. RTS of three under-utilized fruits have been produced including; Elaeocarpus serratus -veralu, Anona muricata -anoda & local Mangifera indica species. Marketing, commercialization and training for entrepreneurs are underway.
Efforts made towards addressing diminishing use of agro-biodiversity over time and traditional knowledge associated with local communities over generational lapses through pilot site upliftment programs; including establishment of school home gardens, crop clinics and food & diversity fairs.

The school home garden establishment program was initiated with the aim of establishment of home school gardens exhibiting agro-biodiversity, sustainable use and promotion of home gardening; for enhanced human nutrition and inculcating good practices amongst the younger generation; who will be the enactor of a better food secure community. Training program for
home garden establishment was carried out by the Department of Agriculture for school children and tutors addressing the concepts & methods on home gardening. School garden establishment at the Gampola, Giribawa School has been initiated, with promotion of practices on organic manure production, composting and bee keeping.

Programs for establishment of model gardens depicting priority agro-biodiversity species, with high nutrition value and added attributes, including medical value; Popularizing use of nutritious herbal food and beverages through empowerment and self-employment programs for women to in partner with the Department of Ayurveda; festival of under-utilized fruits, a public media event in partner with the Department of Agriculture are few of the other programs spearheaded by BFN Sri Lanka.

The Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition Project expects to contribute through its numerous activities in reducing the Global Hunger Index for Sri Lanka to a less alarming level to produce a better food secure nation with effective utilization, conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture.