The Institute of Post Harvest Technology (IPT) is planning to popularise a new wheat flour mixture containing 20 per cent rice flour, which has a potential of saving nearly three billion rupees in foreign exchange annually.
IPT Chairman N. V. T. A. Weragoda said research, conducted at the Institute laboratories, by a team of scientists, led by principal researcher Dr. K. B. Palipana, had revealed that the new formula was ideal for many popular wheat flour applications including bakery products, domestic food items such as roti, string hoppers, hoppers and sweets.
The refined wheat flour, available in the market, popularly known as `paan piti` is stripped off of all nutrients in the refining process and prolonged consumption of such flour had caused nutritional problems in the estate sector, he said.
`The whole wheat flour available at supermarkets is twice as expensive as the refined wheat flour and is out of reach of the common man` Weragoda said.
Sri Lanka`s annual consumption of wheat is about 850,000 Metric tones and that costs the equivalent of Rs. 14.4 billion in foreign exchange. Of that, 600,000 MT is used in the bakery industry alone.
The PTI forecasts that there is a potential of increasing rice flour consumption form 15,000 MT at present to 120,000 MT, with the new formula in use.
Weragoda said that the PTI is presently collecting details of the millers who are willing to participate in the new scheme.