FAO in Sri Lanka
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. Sri Lanka joined the FAO as a member nation in 1948 and a fully fledged FAO Representation was established in January 1979 double accredited to cover Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Since then Sri Lanka has received assistance financially as well as technically in order to develop the Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry and Environment sectors of the country. FAO in Sri Lanka currently supports development oriented programmes as well as emergency response projects.
Under the Development oriented Project activities, Sri Lanka is currently receiving technical assistance in Hybrid-Rice Development in collaboration with the Rice Research Institute(RRDI), Batalagoda, National Bio-Technology Research and Development in collaboration with Centre for Agrarian Research Policy(CARP), and Pepper Development with the assistance of the Government of Japan. Capacity building and support to National Aquatic Research Development Agency (NARA) is also underway along with Restoration and Improvement of Fish Landing Sites in collaboration with the Fisheries Harbor Corporation and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. With the objective of enhancing livelihoods of rural people by addressing Food Security, the Special programme for Food Security (SPFS), a flagship project was launched and completed successfully recently. This project integrated the provision of low-cost technology with appropriate training in the fields of agriculture, livestock, inland fisheries, post harvest activities and storage and the appropriate marketing strategies. Further to the recently concluded SPFS project, on the request of the Government of Sri Lanka the Programme is now being elevated to a National programme for Food Security (NPFS).
In addition many Telefood projects are implemented in Sri Lanka in response to proposals by government and approved by FAO’s technical experts. Although small in scale and cost, TeleFood projects have been making the difference in the lives of small-scale farming communities.
The Emergency response projects are aimed at providing immediate response to the sudden requirements arising in the country. FAO installed an Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit (ERCU) in Sri Lanka to ensure that all activities in the agriculture and fisheries sectors were technically sound and accounted for, with minimal gaps or overlaps. Since its inception, FAO interventions through this unit during emergencies has empowered disaster-affected farming households with the means to resume their livelihood activities, while preparing them to better cope with future shocks. Also addressing the preparedness of Sri Lanka for Avian Influenza.
FAO is presently operating in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya in the North and in Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee in the East by delivering essential basic household food security supplies (agriculture and livestock inputs) to IDPs, vulnerable host households and communities, relocated, resettled families and returnee farmer families, and women-headed families in a coordinated manner. Vulnerable fishing communities who are unable to resume their livelihoods are supported through alternative income generating activities. The ultimate goal is to ensure basic food security of these households, increase their self-reliance and create the conditions for a lasting agricultural recovery and reduce their dependence on external food aid.
In the last four months, FAO has been supporting vulnerable families in the North and East through the provision of training and essential inputs, such as quality seeds, fertilizer agricultural tools, and poultry, supported by the Emergency projects. Activities under these projects support local agriculture production, home gardening and backyard poultry rearing, which are instrumental in promoting the household food security of some 25,000 families in total, preventing their dependence on food aid, and increasing their self -reliance.
FAO facilitates government officials for workshops, seminars, training programmes in line with FAOs areas of work, supported through different funding sources. The selection of participants is channelled through the Department of External Resources (ERD) to the relevant line ministry concerned. Once the line Ministry proposes the name/s with the ERD endorsement, FAO coordinates the rest of the arrangements.
Apart from the core activities, FAO Sri Lanka is implementing FAO’s global initiative on Soaring Food Prices, which has simple but effective goals: distribute seeds, fertilizer and other farming supplies to smallholder farmers. Recently FAO has initiated distributing of 615 MT of seed paddy in Batticalao (12,500 Bushels), Ampara (6,250 Bushels), Polonnaruwa (6,000 Bushels) and in Anuradhapura (6,000 Bushels) respectively in addition to the Zinc Sulphate and mammoties.
FAO works closely with the Government of Sri Lanka, other UN agencies, development partners and local communities to enhance agriculture production and strive to ensure food security for all Sri Lankans.