FAO marks 40 years of representation in Sri Lanka

Monday, 9 December 2019 01:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

FAO Representative to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Xuebing Sun speaking at the event


The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) last week reinforced its commitment to partner with the Government of Sri Lanka and stakeholders towards realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Director General of Agriculture W.M.W. Weerakoon speaking at the event
United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer speaking at the event

Marking 40 years of its Representation in Sri Lanka, FAO underscored how food and agriculture lies at the very heart of sustainable development, from nourishing people to responding to climate change and managing natural resources. 

Addressing FAO’s 40th Anniversary event in Colombo, FAO Representative to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Xuebing Sun stated, “In Sri Lanka, the population is expected to grow by 2.4 million people by 2050. We must therefore plan how we are going to feed a growing population, raising its nutrition levels and doing so, moreover, in a responsible way which means promoting the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and sustaining territorial and marine ecosystems services functions. We must also decide which measures we must adopt to combat climate change, considering its effects on agriculture. We should fully realise the need and the importance of modernising and promoting agricultural sector through innovations, including digitalisation of agriculture and the use of digital platforms to assist farmers and producers." 

He added that nourishing people goes hand-in-hand with nurturing the planet. “Bringing nutritious, safe and sustainably produced food to everyone’s table is possible. This can be done through effective collaboration with the Government, diplomatic corps, civil society, private sector, academia, research centres, co-operatives, and South-South and Triangular Co-operation mechanism and making use of each other’s knowledge and comparative advantages,” he further stated.

United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer noted that the FAO’s work in the country contributed to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and addressed the interconnected nature of the Sustainable Development Goals. Singer stated, “By promoting and supporting sustainable food and agriculture practices, the FAO works towards addressing hunger, nourishing people and nurturing the planet.  We must think carefully about how we grow, share and consume our food. If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the environment. I am encouraged by Sri Lanka’s commitment to combatting food insecurity and malnutrition and hope to see this reflected in policies, investments and legislation.”

Director General of Agriculture Dr W.M.W Weerakoon thanked FAO for the support and friendship extended to the Government for over 40 years to develop the agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry sectors. 

He stated, “The longstanding partnership between FAO and Sri Lanka have yielded positive and lasting results. The country is now focusing on digitisation and mechanisation to make the agriculture sector more efficient and productive. Therefore, FAO’s continued technical expertise and resources are invaluable to achieve these national priorities.” 


Sri Lanka and FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, a specialised agency of the United Nations was established in 1945 with a vision to create a world free from hunger and malnutrition where food and agriculture contribute to improving the living standards of all. Sri Lanka shared that vision when it became a member nation of FAO in April 1948. A permanent FAO Representation was established in 1979, signalling a close partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka. 

Over the past 40 years, the FAO Representation in Sri Lanka has implemented over 400 projects in the country together with the Government of Sri Lanka, including support through regional and global projects. FAO’s emergency assistance programs in Sri Lanka, implemented at times of natural disasters and civil conflict, have reached approximately one million farming and fishing families in the country, enabling them to build resilient livelihoods. 

A  key contribution  from  FAO  has  been  capacity development  of  Government  departments and  institutions. Thousands of technical officers of various departments who have received extensive training and capacity development have in turn provided training/expertise to farmers and fishermen directly impacting food security and livelihoods.

FAO continues to focus on increasing the contribution of food systems to food and nutrition security and income generation; enhancing the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change; and increasing capacity for policy formulation and evidence-based decision-making. 

Promoting sustainable agriculture through innovation, connectivity and accessibility, FAO advocates for nature-based solutions that make wise use of natural resources and conserves the ecosystem. FAO is committed towards empowering rural men, women and youth in order for the agriculture sector to perform to its full capacity while also becoming efficient and inclusive. 

Through a tailored Country Programming Framework, FAO’s technical and policy expertise are aligned with Government priorities and the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework.