Ambassador Chung’s Remarks at the USAID-Supported Fertilizer Handover Ceremony

Sunday, March 19, 2023 

Colombo Commercial Fertilizer (Ltd) Warehouse, Hunupitiya, Wattala

Minister of Agriculture, Honorable Mahinda Amaraweera;

Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Gunadasa Samarasinghe;

FAO Country Director, Vimlendra Sharan; and 

Distinguished guests, farmers, members of the media, ladies, and gentlemen.

Today we witness another chapter in the long partnership between Sri Lanka and the United States with the arrival of this shipment of fertilizer to help Sri Lankan farmers meet the country’s food security challenge.  Farmers are working hard to maximize rice production under difficult circumstances, and the United States is committed to assisting.

It was only last September when I visited farmers in Kurunegela with Ambassador Cindy McCain, the U.S. Permanent Representative to UN agencies in Rome.  We heard directly from them how the lack of fertilizer had impacted their farms and families.  And they shared their hopes with us that the next planting season would be better.

It is my pleasure to say that today represents a big step in fulfilling that hope.

The U.S. government, through USAID, provided US $46 million to the FAO for this assistance and it is exciting to be here today to hand over the final shipment of fertilizer to the Ministry of Agriculture.  In the coming weeks, 36,000 metric tons of Triple Superphosphate – or TSP – fertilizer will be distributed free-of-charge to all paddy farmers in the country – more than one million. 

This brings the total of USAID-funded fertilizer, TSP and Urea, procured through FAO to over 45,000 metric tons.  And with this additional help, it will mark the first time in three seasons that Sri Lankan farmers will have all three types of fertilizers for crop growth. 

This fertilizer will help farmers improve rice production during the planting seasons and help them meet the country’s food needs.  This follows through on a promise made last September by USAID Administrator Samantha Power regarding food assistance, and more broadly the commitment that the United States has made to stand by Sri Lanka during its economic crisis. 

This fertilizer is only one aspect of U.S. assistance and investment in Sri Lanka to help the country and citizens during this challenging time.  In total, the United States has provided more than US $270 million in new assistance and additional loans for small businesses over the last year – and we remain committed to standing by the Sri Lankan people.

U.S. assistance is nothing new and it strengthens the close relationship between the United States and Sri Lanka. 

This year we celebrate 75 years of bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and the United States.  Our story is one focused on people, progress, and partnership, and our commitment to supporting the people of Sri Lanka in good times and bad will not waiver.  Over our long partnership, the United States has invested more than US $2 billion to support Sri Lanka’s agriculture, education, health, environment, water, sanitation, infrastructure, governance, business development, and humanitarian needs. 

Today’s fertilizer donation is a demonstration of America’s enduring goodwill and commitment to the people of Sri Lanka.  The TSP will cover the entire demand for the current Yala season and partially even cover the next Maha season.  It comes without strings attached and it is a testament to how the American people stand with the people of Sri Lanka. 

We are committed to seeing Sri Lanka increase economic opportunity and growth, and progress towards stability and prosperity. 

To conclude, I want to thank the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO, and all those who were a part of this effort, ensuring much-needed fertilizer to Sri Lankan farmers during this difficult time.

I want to thank the farmers especially who are here today.  I know your hard work, your sweat and efforts planting crops contributes so much to your communities and your families.  You are the heart and soul of Sri Lanka’s farmlands, and I hope this fertilizer will help each of you to keep thriving.

Thank you.