COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
19 March 2023
More than a million Sri Lankan paddy farmers in all 25 districts will get vital assistance through a shipment of over 36,000 metric tons of fertilizer handed over today by the United States to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The shipment of Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and procured by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for distribution free-of-charge to farmers. This second shipment of USAID-supported fertilizer is delivered on a promise USAID Administrator Samantha Power made last September in response to Sri Lanka’s food security challenges. It brings the total of USAID-supported TSP and urea fertilizer to more than 45,000MT over the last year.
U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung said, “Farmers are working hard to maximize rice production and meet the country’s food needs under difficult circumstances, and the United States is committed to assisting. 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.
Ambassador Chung added, “Today’s fertilizer donation is a demonstration of America’s enduring goodwill and commitment to the people of Sri Lanka. It comes without strings attached and it is a testament to how the American people stand with the people of Sri Lanka.”
The United States, through USAID, provided $46 million in funding to procure essential fertilizer, providing much-needed nutrients to paddy crops, helping increase paddy production, and averting a food crisis. This funding also provided cash assistance to small-holder farmers who were affected by low yields over the past few agricultural seasons and on account of the prevailing economic crisis. The program is being implemented by UN FAO with oversight provisions to ensure transparency and accountability.
Speaking at the handover Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera expressed his gratitude to the people of America and FAO for providing timely support to reinvigorate the local agricultural sector. “Through this support, we are certain the yield of the upcoming harvesting seasons will improve steadily. Our eventual aim is to minimize dependency on rice imports and further empower Sri Lankan paddy farmers,” Minister Amaraweera added.
“Fertilizer will help local farmers boost their production so that the country is food secure. Most importantly, this also can jump-start market-driven agricultural production and potentially lead to Sri Lanka becoming a food exporter,” said USAID Mission Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Gabriel Grau.
In the last year, the United States has provided more than $270 million in new support to Sri Lankans amid the ongoing economic crisis. In addition, the U.S. the largest donor to the UN Humanitarian Needs Plan for Sri Lanka.
“We thank the U.S. government for the support extended at a critical juncture, enabling this consignment of TSP fertilizer, the first to arrive in the country in two years, which will be distributed to all paddy farmers based on the extent of their cultivation and the advised application for each of the agricultural zones through the support of the Ministry of Agriculture,” said FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr Vimlendra Sharan.
Minister Amaraweera and FAO Representative Sharan joined Ambassador Chung and USAID Mission Director Grau at today’s handover ceremony.
This assistance is one component of the United States’ long-standing partnership with the Sri Lankan people to promote a healthy, educated, and employed population. To find out more about USAID’s work, please see usaid.gov/sri-lanka and follow us on Twitter @USAIDSriLanka and Facebook @USAIDSriLankaMaldives.
FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It helps countries modernize and strengthen agriculture, forestry, and fisheries practices, making them more sustainable and ensuring food security and nutrition for all. For more information visit: www.fao.org or follow FAO on Twitter @FAOSriLanka and @FAONews.