The United States officially handed over 9,300 tons of urea fertiliser to the Agriculture Ministry to distribute among 193,000 smallholder paddy farmers in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Monaragala districts.
The US Embassy in Colombo in a statement noted that the handover ceremony was attended by US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Asia Anjali Kaur, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Vimlendra Sharan and USAID Mission Director Sri Lanka and Maldives Gabriel Grau.
The fertiliser, procured by FAO with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is the first shipment of USAID-supported fertiliser assistance, with additional supplies anticipated in the coming months that will reach close to one million farmers across the country.
“This fertiliser, provided by the American people, will help Sri Lankan farmers to keep countless Sri Lankan families fed in the months ahead,” US Ambassador Chung, speaking at a handover event held at the Port of Colombo said.
“I know that fertiliser alone will not meet all of Sri Lanka’s needs, but this assistance is just one aspect of the United States’ much greater investment in and support for the people and government of Sri Lanka at this challenging time. In total, we have announced over $ 240 million in new assistance and additional loans for small businesses over the last year and we will keep at it. Assistance like the fertiliser demonstrates America’s goodwill and true commitment to the people of Sri Lanka.”
Minister Amaraweera said: “Sri Lankan paddy farmers are capable of feeding the country and we are working to ensure that they have the inputs needed to support their livelihood and strengthen the food security of the country. We thank the US Government and FAO for their support in ensuring that vulnerable farmers receive essential fertiliser free of charge.”
The US, through USAID, has provided $ 46 million in funding to procure essential fertiliser to increase paddy production and avert a food crisis – a portion of which arrived yesterday. This funding will also provide cash assistance to small-holder farmers who have suffered due to low yields over the last two agricultural seasons and on account of the prevailing economic crisis, the statement noted.
USAID and its partners have mechanisms in place to monitor and evaluate their work, ensuring that assistance reaches its intended recipients and benefits vulnerable farming households.
USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Kaur, who is currently visiting Sri Lanka, said: “We are delivering on a commitment we made to reach small-holder paddy farmers with much-needed fertiliser during the planting season to increase their yield and harvests. This is part of our support to Sri Lankans during this complex emergency to ensure they lead healthier and more productive lives.”
FAO Country Director Sharan said: “As FAO, we believe that saving livelihoods saves lives. The 9,300 tons of urea procured through USAID will ensure smallholder farmers take to productive agriculture practices and are able to meet their food and nutrition requirements in these extremely difficult days the country faces. We thank the US Government for its support in this endeavour and look forward to working with USAID in taking Sri Lankan agriculture forward.”