Food Festival 2017 Commemorating the World Food Day

The Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project Sri Lanka executed under the Department of Agriculture successfully implemented the extravagant Food Festival 2017 commemorating the World Food Day under the themes of Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition and True Sri Lankan Taste; contributing to the broader theme of “Change the future of migration, Invest in food security and rural development” as stated by the food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Migration is part of the process of development as economies undergo structural transformation and people search for better employment opportunities within and across countries. In this way, migration can contribute to economic growth and improve food security and rural livelihoods, thus advancing countries’ progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (FAO, 2017). The cooking competitions held across the country with the main agenda of identification of traditional recipes with utilization of the rich biodiversity native to the respective districts and introduction of ready to serve recipes with high economical value into the Hela Bojun value chain throughout the island.

The Food Festival 2017 comprised a range of events related to Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition held on 16th October from 10.00a.m to 6.00p.m at the Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Gannoruwa, Sri Lanka; with over 3000 persons attending the event including school children, students from various educational institutes, officers of the Department of Agriculture, entrepreneurs and the general public throughout the country. The event was co-organized in collaboration with the Women Agriculture Extension Program under the Extension & Training Centre and the National Agriculture Information & Communication Centre.

The festival exhibited the local food diversity and agro-biodiversity in different localities of Sri Lanka representing the 25 districts and the 6 inter-provinces; a
total of 36 foods stalls were available exhibiting and selling local agro-biodiversity products.

Cooking competitions were initially organized at 24 districts and 6 inter-provinces under two categories: open category and defined category (fruit & vegetable category); with the objective of identification of traditional recipes hidden within the society and novel value additions made utilizing local agro-biodiversity. Numerous recipes were identified and collected via the island wide cooking competitions which will be compiled into a recipe booklet in due course. Individuals placed first under two categories of the cooking competition in the district level competitions were selected to take part in the grand finale with selection of best and novel recipes under each category with grand prizes for winners; 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. The panel of judges included the famous executive chef Ms. Shantha Mayadunne, and representing the health sector Ms. Priyangee Edirisinghe, Nutritionist and Prof. Swarna Wimalasiri, Department of Food Science & Technology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya.

More to follow were the seminars and the discussion forum on Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition with experts sharing insightful information on present ideologies and facts on Food, Nutrition & Health. Lectures were delivered by Dr. W.M.T. Madhujith, Professor in Food Science; Dr. Shanalee Ehagama, Medical Officer in Nutrition elaborating on the health aspects; Dr. W.L.G. Samarasinghe, BFN National Project Coordinator / Additional Director Plant Genetic Resources Centre and Dr. Danny Hunter, BFN Global Project Coordinator, Bioversity International, Rome.

Entertainment was provided by colorful street drama exhibiting the importance of biodiversity for Food & Nutrition.

Inaugural Session

Visiting the 36 Food Stalls exhibiting food diversity in different districts of Sri Lanka

Cooking Competition for finalists from the 25 Districts and 6 Inter-provinces

Discussion Forum and seminars on Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition

Book Launching & Awards Ceremony

Street Drama on Biodiversity for Food & Nutrition