UN FAO to uplift farmers during Maha

  • 365,000 bags of urea fertiliser to islandwide paddy farmers
  • Rs. 18 K each to 14,000 low-income, women-headed families for green gram cultivation    

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has agreed to implement several programmes in Sri Lanka during the upcoming Maha cultivation season, with the intention of uplifting the farming community, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Speaking to the media, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the FAO has agreed to implement a number of special projects during the coming Maha season, with their objective being to uplift the economic status of the farming community.

According to him, the FAO has agreed to provide 365,000 bags of urea fertiliser, free of charge, to low-income farming families for paddy cultivation during the Maha season. He said that it has been decided to provide one bag of urea fertiliser each to 365,000 low-income farming families, islandwide.

He further said that the FAO has agreed to provide a sum of Rs. 18,000 each to a total of 14,000 low-income, women-headed families for green gram cultivation during the Maha season, adding that the FAO has stated that green gram cultivation should be promoted in Sri Lanka under the programmes to cultivate nutritious food crops.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media recently, Amaraweera said that the World Bank had agreed to provide $ 105 million to provide all the urea fertiliser required for paddy cultivation, while another 65,000 metric tonnes (MT) of urea fertiliser, provided by the Government of India, would arrive in Sri Lanka in the first two weeks of July.

The use and importation of chemical fertilisers and agrochemicals were banned in April, 2021, following a proposal presented by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa being granted Cabinet of Ministers’ approval. However, this move saw much opposition from farmers, agronomists, and several other quarters. As a result, the ban on the import and use of chemical fertiliser was lifted in November, 2021, but farmers islandwide are still experiencing a serious shortage of fertiliser needed for their cultivations.