Hon. Ravi Karunanyake, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon. S.B. Dissanayake, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Hon Gamini Jayawickrame Perera, Minister of Irrigation and Water Management, Hon. Keheliya Rambukwelle, Minister of Science and Technology participated in the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology, which was held in Sacramento, California, the USA from June 23-25. 2003. Agricultural and other ministers from more than 120 countries attended the Conference, which focused on how science and technology, in a supportive policy environment, can increase agricultural productivity, spur economic growth and help alleviate world hunger and poverty. The Conference was participated by some 60 ministers of agriculture, 26 ministers from the areas of natural resources and environment, 18 ministers of science and technology, 12 ministers of commerce and several from health and education ministries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture organized the Conference which was co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Hon. Ann Veneman US Secretary of Agriculture first announced plans for a science and technology conference in June 2002 in Rome at the World Food Summit.

The theme of this conference was the critical role science and technology can play in increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries in an environmentally sustainable way to alleviate world hunger and poverty. The Ministers who participated at the Conference and Technology EXPO had the opportunity to see first hand an array of exhibits and product demonstrations including conventional to cutting-edge technologies geared to small-scale and large-scale enterprises, with applications throughout the food chain. The Ministerial Conference provided perspectives on world and regional issues related to the areas such as: Allocation of Resources for Agricultural Research and Development, Attracting Foreign and Domestic Investment in the Agricultural Economy, Addressing Post-Harvest Challenges through Technology Transfer, Food Security and the Promise of New Technologies, The Challenge of Limited Water Resources and Policy Implications.

The Ministerial Conference discussed a broad range of issues such as; Increasing Access to Technologies, Agricultural Production, Processing, and Marketing Technologies, Overcoming the Technology Divide in Developing Countries Trade Capacity Building, Improving Competitiveness with Information Technologies, Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Market Infrastructure and Agribusiness Linkages In closing the conference, Hon. Veneman, US Secretary of Agriculture said that the road to solutions will involve a rearranging of priorities to address the most critical areas and recommended several priority areas including: Strengthen education and agricultural research; Enhance partnerships and international cooperation to help make scarce resources go farther; and Facilitate the benefits of technology through supportive policies and regulations.

The conference offered Sri Lankan Ministers an opportunity to focus on what science and technology can do for farmers and consumers. The conference also provided a forum to identify needs, share ideas and discuss policies, partnerships and strategies to accelerate technology transfer and local research and development to boost agricultural productivity.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

23 June 2003


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