Statement by H.E. Gotabaya Rajapaksa
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
UN Food Systems Summit
23 September 2021
Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to participate in this Virtual Plenary today.
At the outset, I appreciate the Secretary General’s decision to convene this Summit and commend his Special Envoy Dr. Agnes Kalibata for her stewardship of the inclusive process leading up to it.
This summit takes place at an important time.
The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in global food systems that will only be worsened with climate change.
It is therefore essential that all stakeholders work together to transform global food systems to be more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive.
Sustainable food systems are part of Sri Lanka’s rich sociocultural and economic heritage.
Our more recent past, however, saw increasing use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weedicides that led to adverse health and environmental impacts.
My Government took the bold step to restrict imports of these harmful substances earlier this year.
However, changing the mindset of farmers long accustomed to using chemical fertiliser has proven challenging.
So too has the production of sufficient quantity of organic fertiliser domestically.
Sri Lanka welcomes technical assistance and bilateral support in this regard.
Fostering organic agriculture is part of a wider programme that includes enhancing market oriented inclusive food value chains to reduce rural poverty.
Through such improvements, I am confident Sri Lanka will be able to sustainably transform its food system and ensure greater food security and better nutrition for its people.
Sri Lanka appreciates the technical assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme, and the support of other global organisations and scientific bodies in this regard.
As leaders our aim must be to ensure a better future for our people and our planet.
The challenges we face are universal, and we must work together to find solutions to them.
I trust that today’s Summit will help facilitate the transformation of the global food system to one that can better foster the health of both humanity and our planet.