(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations handed over 780.1 metric tons of urea fertilizer to the Ministry of Agriculture today (16) to provide free urea fertilizer to low-income farming families in the districts of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Badulla for paddy cultivation.
The urea stock, procured through the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (UN-CERF) was officially received by the Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Mr. Mahinda Amaraweera.
UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Vimlendra Sharan and Secretary to the Ministry Gunadasa Samarasinghe, also were present at the occasion.
Some 15,619 farmers, cultivating paddy on landholdings of one-fifth hectare or less, will each receive 50 kilograms of urea in four of the more poverty-stricken districts of Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, and Badulla.
The urea is being provided to the farmers free of charge and its distribution will commence this week with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Development.
Urea is badly needed by smallholder farmers in some of the hardest to reach and most vulnerable areas to help them recover from the recent economic shock and shortage of adequate fertilizers.
Speaking at the handover, the Minister of Agriculture, Mahinda Amaraweera, emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to boost agriculture production in Sri Lanka and expressed his appreciation for the support extended.
“If paddy farmers receive the required agriculture inputs the food security of the country can be restored. I thank FAO for working closely with the government to ensure essential fertilizer and other inputs are provided to the most vulnerable farmers.”
FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Vimlendra Sharan, thanked the government for its close collaboration with FAO.
“At FAO we are working with our partners and advocating at every level to ensure that vulnerable farmers and fishers are not compelled to abandon their livelihoods to feed their families. The urea provided today will be going to the most vulnerable farmers in four of the poorest districts in the country to strengthen the food security of their households and boost production for the country.”
Since June, the UN and its Specialized Agencies, including FAO, have been providing multi-sectoral support to insulate the people of Sri Lanka from the worst impacts of the economic crisis, including through the recently revised Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan, which targets 3.4 million people in need.
Commenting on the initiative, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy stated “we are focused on supporting and augmenting local food production capacity and delivery systems as much as possible. The urea provided to the Ministry of Agriculture today will bolster vulnerable livelihoods in the country, and in doing so protect lives in Sri Lanka.”
FAO said it is committed to helping Sri Lanka and all its Member Nations achieve Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life for all, leaving no one behind.