The United States officially handed over 9,300 tonnes of urea fertilizer to the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday (December 05) to distribute to more than 193,000 smallholder paddy farmers in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Monaragala districts, a statement from the U.S. Embassy said.
The fertilizer, procured by FAO with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is the first shipment of USAID-supported fertilizer assistance, with additional supplies anticipated in the coming months that will reach close to one million farmers across the country.
“This fertilizer, provided by the American people, will help Sri Lankan farmers to keep countless Sri Lankan families fed in the months ahead,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, speaking at a handover event held at the Colombo port. “I know that fertilizer 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’ve announced over $240 million in new assistance and additional loans for small businesses over the last year – and we’ll keep at it. Assistance like today’s fertilizer demonstrates America’s goodwill and true commitment to the people of Sri Lanka.”
“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 U.S. government and FAO for their support in ensuring that vulnerable farmers receive essential fertilizer free of charge,” said Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera.
The United States, through USAID, has provided $46 million in funding to procure essential fertilizer to increase paddy production and avert a food crisis – a portion of which arrived today. This funding will also provide cash assistance to smallholder farmers who have suffered due to low yields over the last two agricultural seasons and on account of the prevailing economic crisis. USAID and its partners have mechanisms in place to monitor and evaluate their work, ensuring that assistance reaches its intended recipients and benefits the vulnerable farming households.
“We are delivering on a commitment we made to reach smallholder paddy farmers with much-needed fertilizer 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,” said Anjali Kaur, USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Asia Bureau who is currently visiting Sri Lanka.
“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 U.S. Government for its support in this endeavour and look forward to working with USAID in taking Sri Lankan agriculture forward” stated Mr Vimlendra Sharan, Country Director of FAO.
Today’s handover ceremony was attended by the United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung; Sri Lanka’s Minister of Agriculture (MoA), Mahinda Amaraweera; USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia, Anjali Kaur; FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr Vimlendra Sharan; and USAID Mission Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Gabriel Grau.