September 13, 2022
Thank you for inviting me today, Chairman Prasan Fernando and friends at United Tractor Limited. I know earlier this year, you celebrated 75 years of infrastructure industry excellence, dedicated customer service, and engineering prowess – congratulations. You should be very proud. And your longstanding collaboration with Caterpillar in the United States is a testament of the innovation that can happen when we bring the best talents and resources of the United States and Sri Lanka together.
UTE not only provides engineering solutions and the best equipment, but your mission statement underscores human resources as your most valuable asset. I can tell by looking around at your team members here today. You have proven this through a state-of-the-art Training Centre providing the best and most modern technical training for your workforce and establishing the Sustainable school program to train future skilled workers.
And today, as we face this unprecedented economic crisis in Sri Lanka, UTE is launching the Grow Your Food Initiative to help its workforce and communities get seeds, learn how to choose the right crop, and be able to contribute in meaningful ways to combat food insecurity. You know, during the Great Depression in the United States, citizens were encouraged to plant “victory gardens” to boost togetherness and ward off hunger, resulting in millions of small victory gardens across our country. In this spirit, the U.S. Embassy partnered with the Colombo City Council in July to plant community gardens to help those in need. I also joined the American Alumni Association to provide meals for vulnerable groups in Colombo. And I am proud to be here with you today to help launch UTE’s home garden project.
Just yesterday, USAID Administrator Samantha Powers visited Sri Lanka and announced $60 million in new assistance from the American people to provide fertilizer, agricultural inputs, and cash assistance to the most vulnerable communities. The U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka since June now totals $240 million. But assistance is not just about the dollar amounts.
Each of us – in government, civil society, and of course the private sector – in big and small ways must do what we can to help our neighbors and friends and communities in need. And there is great need in Sri Lanka right now. Through these home gardens that you are developing, you are not only helping to plant seeds, you are planting the seeds of hope. I hope more companies follow your lead and offer solutions to provide relief to many. Thank you for your dedication, your service, and your love of your country. I am confident that it is through this unity of purpose that Sri Lanka will recover and get back to the path to stability and prosperity. Thank you.