During a discussion held between the Chinese Government and the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the then Minister of Trade, Dr. Bandula Gunawardena on January 8 this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the China-Sri Lanka Rubber-Rice Agreement, the Chinese government has announced a donation of 10,000 metric tons of rice to Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, the first consignment of 5,000 metric tons of rice arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday (28) and was officially handed over to Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, current Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media and the Acting Minister of Education by the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong.
Speaking briefly, Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena appreciated the assistance provided by the Chinese Government to Sri Lanka in the face of the economic crisis.
He also said that the understanding between the two countries would be further enhanced by the past cooperation and sincere friendship between the two countries.
The Minister said that this stock of rice will be used for the program to provide food to school children and accordingly, by sending children to schools, the need for education as well as the need for nutrition will be met.
Ambassador Qi Zhenhong said China would extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in the current crisis situation.
Ambassador stated that the vulnerable population, especially children from low-income families suffer the most in the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka and further support will be given to meet the nutritional needs of school children.
He said China supports the School Meal Program of Sri Lanka to provide daily nutritious meals to 1.1 million children in 7,900 schools across Sri Lanka. China will try all-out efforts to sustain the Sri Lanka School Meal Program for at least 6 months, he added.
The Ambassador further stated that another two shipments of rice donations will arrive respectively in the next week and the following week while more are in the pipeline.
He said that the Chinese government was honored to make such a donation at an urgent time and in addition to the stock of rice being handed over, measures have been taken already to bring the remaining 5,000 metric tons of rice to Sri Lanka expeditiously.
In addition, the Chinese Embassy is discussing with Sri Lanka Ministry of Education to provide school uniform for students across the island in the new school year, the Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong announced at the hand-over ceremony.