Key said that President Maithripala Sirisena is dealing effectively with the challenging issues of reconciliation and tackling corruption.
He said that during his visit he has seen first-hand the progress in Sri Lanka and added that his Government is keen to further expand the relations with the country.
The Prime Minister was speaking after both Sri Lanka and New Zealand signed several agreements in the presence of the leaders of Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
“Sri Lanka is a shining light in Asia,” the Prime Minister said.
Key launched two significant dairy development projects in Colombo this afternoon, aimed at supporting Sri Lankan dairy farmers and boosting New Zealand’s role in Sri Lanka’s dairy industry.
The agreement was reached at a meeting between Key, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other Cabinet ministers today.
“The Sri Lankan Government is making real progress as it undertakes a significant programme of post-war reconciliation and economic reform, and the opportunities for us to work more closely together are immense,” Key said.
He said that New Zealand can play a role in the country’s development through sharing expertise and technology in areas such as dairy. He also said that Sri Lanka offers significant opportunities for New Zealand businesses in areas such as tourism, education, IT, infrastructure development and aviation, as well as to serve as a platform for expansion into the wider South Asia region.
Key says the dairy cooperation projects, worth around $5.9 million (563 million rupees), are part of New Zealand’s ongoing commitment to Sri Lanka and will see local dairy farmers benefit from the expertise of New Zealand’s world-class farming industry.
The two dairy development projects which New Zealand will support are:
• The Dairy Training Excellence Initiative, which will see smallholder Sri Lankan dairy farmers receive training on reproduction, farm economics, nutrition and safe milk handling. Around 20 master trainers and 180 extension staff will be trained by New Zealand experts to work with farmers on 3,000 Sri Lankan farms.
• An extension to the Wanni Dairy Regeneration Activity, which helps post-conflict communities in northern Sri Lanka to generate a sustainable agricultural income. The new phase of the Wanni Dairy Regeneration Activity aims to boost Sri Lankan dairy production and improve the quality of life for families across nine districts in the Northern, Eastern and North Central provinces. This project is expected to benefit 7,500 smallholder dairy households and 10,000 rural youth in the next five years. The project has been funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme in partnership with TEAR Fund NZ, QPod Systems Ltd, Patton Ltd and World Concern Development Organisation.
“New Zealand is strongly committed to helping improve the productivity and efficiency of the Sri Lankan dairy industry, in order to improve the livelihoods of the Sri Lankan people,” Key said.
“Working in partnership is essential for island nations like ours. For New Zealand, this story of partnership has been replicated around the world, resulting in significant growth in local production and technology, improved rural livelihoods, and diversification of products.”
Key also welcomed the signing of an agreement between Auckland Zoo and the Sri Lankan Government which will see the zoo gifted a second elephant.
“New Zealand’s weather seems to agree with Sri Lankan elephants with the first, Anjalee, putting on 700 kilograms in her first year in Auckland,” Key said.
“The second elephant will prove a great drawcard for tourists and locals alike. This is another example of the close and growing relationship between our countries and I thank the Sri Lankan Government for entrusting us with her.”
In return Auckland Zoo will help with Sri Lanka’s management of its own elephant population, as well as help train Sri Lankan wildlife workers.
Key is in Sri Lanka on a three-day State visit. The dairy projects form part of a Dairy Cooperation Arrangement between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, which has been in effect since 2013 and has been extended during this week’s visit. (Colombo Gazette)