73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Item 26: Agriculture development, food security and nutrition
The Delegation of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
“Agriculture development, food security and nutrition”
Sri Lanka associates itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Egypt on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and wish to thank the Secretary General for his report on this item.
Achieving food security, adequate nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture remain a cornerstone of the 2030 Development Agenda. Global initiatives to end hunger and combat malnutrition have gained momentum in the past two decades. Yet, global hunger levels are on the rise, sparked by factors such as climate change, population growth, poverty and conflict.
It is alarming to note that over 800 million people around the world today suffer from chronic undernourishment, the most visible victims being children. It is a cause for concern that over 150 million children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting and a further 50 million from wasting.
One of the key factors that can help us combat global hunger and malnutrition is agriculture. If we are to break the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and malnutrition, it is essential that we enhance our efforts to adopt effective agricultural policies, including the promotion of sustainable agriculture, rural development and investment in the agriculture sector.
Sri Lanka, has, since ancient times, adopted a strong agriculture and rural development policy. Once known as the “Granery of the East” due to its flourishing agriculture, Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector continues to benefit from the impressive system of tanks and irrigation canals built by our forefathers. Sri Lankan farmers also draw upon traditional knowledge to increase crops and eliminate disease.
However, climate change has become one of the greatest threats faced by Sri Lankan farmers, particular those engaged in the production of rice – the staple food of our people. Increasing temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns have resulted in severe flooding last year and in 2016, the country faced the worst drought in over 40 years. The resulting destruction of domestic crops had serious implications for food production.
Given these experiences, Sri Lanka has recognized the need to adapt to climate shocks in order to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security. The Government has adopted several initiatives in this regard, including the National Climate Change Policy and the National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change Impact. Sri Lanka has also introduced “climate smart” agriculture methods to minimize climate related impacts on agriculture, such as climate resilient crops, rainwater harvesting, crop diversification, utilization of technology, among others.
In addition to adopting methods to combat the effects on climate change on agriculture, Sri Lanka has also taken steps to increase food security and nutrition levels among its people. Under the National Nutrition Policy, initiatives have been launched to ensure that every citizen has access to adequate and appropriate food and nutrition, irrespective of their geographical location or socio-economic status. Sri Lanka is also working closely with UN agencies such as the World Food Programme to enhance food security and nutrition and with UNICEF to improve child and maternal nutrition.
In conclusion, Mr. President, Sri Lanka will continue to enhance its national policies to increase sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition and work collectively towards a world free of poverty and hunger.