Urea fertiliser being packed to be readied for distribution to 72,200 smallholder farmers and paddy seed farmers across Sri Lanka
Through funding from the European Union (EU), a shipment of 3,820 tonnes of urea fertiliser procured by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) was handed over to the Agriculture Ministry yesterday, for distribution among the smallholder paddy farmers and paddy seed farmers in Sri Lanka.
This new shipment of urea fertiliser will be dispatched to over 72,200 smallholder paddy farmers, who were severely impacted by the recent economic crisis in the Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Ampara, Matale, Puttalam, Kurunegala and Hambantota districts and is integral to a four million euro (approximately Rs.1.5 billion) programme launched by the FAO and EU, to address the agriculture and food security crisis in Sri Lanka while supporting the introduction of integrated plant nutrient management strategy amongst identified paddy growers.
Speaking on the support the EU has extended to revitalise Sri Lanka’s paddy cultivation sector, EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi said, “The distribution of urea fertilisers for vulnerable farmers is one of many actions we undertook to respond to the socioeconomic crisis affecting millions of people in Sri Lanka. We hope that with this new support, we can prevent immediate food shortages but also contribute towards a transition to a more sustainable and resilient agriculture sector in the future.”
Through this programme, every eligible farmer cultivating up to 0.5 ha of land in the targeted districts will receive 50kg of urea fertiliser for the upcoming cultivating season. Additionally, the programme will also provide high-quality paddy seeds and the necessary technology/capacity building to boost the efficient use of fertiliser.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said, “This initiative by the EU and FAO goes beyond providing material inputs and addresses the country’s long-term need to ensure sustainability of the local agriculture sector. I am appreciative of this support extended to our farmers as this will go a long way in helping Sri Lanka become a food secure nation.”
“This consignment of essential urea fertiliser will be the first component of the multi-faceted support FAO will provide through valuable funding from the EU, to boost Sri Lanka’s paddy production and revitalise the local agriculture sector. We will work closely with the Agriculture Ministry and Irrigation Ministry to ensure its success while helping the country’s agriculture sector improve its sustainability through capacity building and training of extension officials and farmers,” FAO Representative in Sri Lanka Vimlendra Sharan said. Crop failures during recent harvesting seasons, due to shortages of fertiliser and vital inputs, have posed many challenges for smallholder paddy farmers to sustain their livelihoods. This programme seeks to encourage smallholder farmers through material and technical inputs to adopt scientific farming practices to enhance fertiliser use efficiency and strengthen the seed paddy production system in Sri Lanka to meet the current demand. The programme also aims to strengthen government seed farms by providing them with modern, state-of-the-art seed processing and drying machines.