Good morning Everyone,I thank IFAD and the organizers of this event for providing me the opportunity to present our experiences in Agriculture and Fisheries Development and poverty alleviation in the Maldives.You are hearing experiences from the worlds most populous nation and one of the world’s smallest nations in the IFAD familyWe maybe small but we have come a long way on our way to overcome extreme poverty and hunger through a 1000 year old tradition of fishing.Maldives still represents one of the least developed countries in the Asia region. Although it was scheduled to graduate from the LDC status in 2004, the tsunami of that year has delayed the process and now the Maldives is scheduled to be graduated in 2012. Maldives can be taken as a very successful example where small scale sustainable fisheries development has played a key role in poverty reduction in the country.
This presentation will be about the island communities of the Maldives and the role of the agriculture and fisheries sectors have played poverty reduction in these small island communities.Maldives is a cluster of islands scattered in the Indian Ocean. There are over a 1000 small coral islands. The islands coralline in nature and the soil conditions are very poor. Limited crops are grown. Most islands are fully covered by coconut palms and traditionally coconuts and coconut products have played a key role in food security and poverty alleviation.The total land area of the 1200 islands is 300 sq km giving an average size of just 0.25 sq km per island. We have to appreciate that many of the 1200 islands are extremely small and they are not habitable let alone practice agriculture.Traditionally suitable islands were leased out on a special rental scheme for care taking by the community for agriculture.Uninhabited islands are used to gather firewood, farming and fishery activities.
People live on about 200 of the 1200 islands in the Maldives.Historically people have settled down on islands where fresh water is available for obvious reasons.They had to have drinkable ground water.They needed water to grow their crops.They need to settle down on islands where soils were mature enough for many crops and large trees to grow.Its common to see settlements on islands fully covered with coconut palms. This is a must.The coconut palm is an important source of agricultural trade and development historically. A large number islands do not have any coconut palms on them.There is a strong relationship between settlements and maturity of the islands in terms of its ground water aquifer and coconut palms.Approximately 150 islands are set aside for industrial development of which 100 are exclusive high end tourist resorts.35 islands have been leased for commercial farming.The remaining 800 islands are used mainly for agriculture and fishery related activities.
The population of Maldives is small with a growth rate of 2.7%. Families in rural areas are big and it is usual to see extended families living together.One third of the population is under 18 years. And effectively we have a working population age of 200,000 Roughly 150,000 of the population are said to be economically active. Of these the Government directly employs about 30,000 people.Its no wonder that there are over 80,000 expatriate workers from our neighboring countries making a living in the Maldives.The GDP estimates for 2010 is about 900 million US dollars with a per capital GDP of about 2800 $The agriculture and fisheries contribution to GDP has consistently declined with the development of other economic sectors especially tourism, general trading and the services industry.
The population distributionon islands gives a good indication of the extent of rurality and urbanization of islands. As population increases agriculture becomes less important on the given island as a whole and other economic activities becomes more prominent.180 of the inhabited islands has a population of less that 2000.More importantly 75 of the islands have a population of less than 500.Under certain definitions majority of the islands in the Maldives maybe considered rural.But we have to bear in mind that such categorizations may vary depending of how you look at them.Only 14 islands have a population larger than 2000.
The Maldives had survived on fish and coconuts for 100s of years. These are probably the two products which has kept the island communities out of absolute poverty during hard times. Maldives has sustained its population on fish and coconuts together with other crops in the very early periods.Maldives has a very important and traditional tuna fishery. The fishery yields over a 100,000 MT of fish annually.It is a renowned tuna fishing nation now exporting to the largest markets around the world.Most economic activities on rural islands are based on incomes generated from tuna fishing. The earnings from the fishery are used to buy staple foods such as rice, flour and sugar amongst many others.The fishing method in the Maldives by design generates employment for large numbers of island community.The pole and line method of fishing involves on average10 people per boat on a fishing trip . So for 1000 boats to operate you need to employ 10,000 fishermen. There is an estimated 10-15000 fishermen according to latest statistics
A key factor associated with the pole and line method of fishing is the traditional catch sharing system.This was and is the key to income distribution amongst fishermen. Good catches over prolonged times brought great prosperity to fisherfolkcommunities.Its not the only the boat owner who benefits. Under the catch sharing system everyone benefits.The boat owner just get a larger share of the catch. Investment in a boat is useless without a highly skilled work force of fishermen.The pole and line method of fishing sustains a large fishing population. The pole and line method of fishing has been developed and maintained over generations of tuna fishing and Maldives remains one the few countries where this is still traditionally practiced with great skill and care.The pole and line method of fishing is marketed as the most sustainable form of fishing and represents one of our key marketing strategies.The government has keptforeign fishing closed in its coastal waters and this has preserved the harvesting sector and sustained rural employment of the fisheries sector. The other advantage of tuna fishing methodology is the creation of small holder fish processing opportunities.Women participation is very high in the fish processing sector.
Small holder fishers process fish in the traditional manner at home usually involving the whole family commonly led by women.The method is labour intensive and carried out by many individual households separately on a given island.This activity is critical in most fishing islands for poverty reduction.
The small holder fish processors has always enjoyed preferential treatment in the development of fisheries polices.When the government opened the fisheries sector for private sector investments in 2002, the small holder fishers were protected in the agreements drawn up with the private sector.While the private sector operators can buy the disposable catch from the fishermen and process and export them …The small holder fishers were allowed to process and sell dried fish as a traditional income earning activity.Complex conflicts now exist between the private sector buyers and small holder processors due to lack of proper regulatory frameworks relating to small holder processing.Large companies are bound by agreements and quality assurances as they export as export to EU and other international markets.Small holder are not bound by such agreements as they export to a different market not affected by quality in general.
Strong pro poor policies had been in effect for Fishery developments in the Maldives. Small holder welfare and interest have always prevailed in policy development. The transformation that the fisheries sector has undergone clearly reflects these policiesMechanization of fishing vessels in the seventies was key success factor for the tuna fishery.With that fish freezing facilities, canneries and collection facilities were developed.
Fisheries policies has been centered on government initiated investments on boats, engines and fish purchasing centers and increasing storage capacity.Boats and engines were loaned to communities under various loan schemes under WB, IFAD and the Kuwait FundAll the time a state owned company bought fish from small scale fishermen until recently. This has now changed…Now there are 4 companies competing to buy fish from fishermen.Policies are now shifting to sustainability, quality assurance and value addition.
Currently there is a major policy shift in fisheries development. Loans for boats and engines are no longer given through government schemes.Such loan schemes have been totally handed over to commercial BanksMicro financing options are also made available through commercial banks for quality assurance schemesPrivate public partnerships are now actively encouraged at all levels.Fisheries Policies are now more centered on, value addition, quality assurance, sustainability and large scale infrastructure development such as markets,harbours and associated services.
Unlike fishing Maldives has not been able to develop the agriculture sector for obvious reasons most important of which is limited land and poor soils. The calcareous soils are not mature enough to grow most tropical crop varieties.There are few crops grown sustainably in large quantities.Most fruits and vegetables and all types of grain and rice are imported. The government's overall policy is to reduce import of certain products. We are working to achieve this through various schemes.The government undertakes to import and sell staple food that is rice floor and sugar at fixed rates through the state trading organization.The farming sector is not very organized due to many reasons. The most important of which is the lack of relevant laws and regulations especially those concerning land.Plots of land are sometimes just claimed on islands and farming takes placeIn other instances plots are registered to individual households or farmers.There is a general lack of skills and farming is carried out using traditional methods and highly labour intensive.Things have changed in recent times especially in the last 5 years. The agriculture sector is now increasingly becoming a major player in the income generation activities. There is a lot of room for expansion of agriculture.
One thing that has to be noted in the context of agriculture is the sudden take off of agriculture in the Maldives following the Tsunami.The donor driven post tsunami efforts had a profound effect agriculture production in the islands.This is the combined results of the post tsunami efforts in providing agriculture inputs in the form of seeds fertilizers and farm equipment to almost all agriculture islands. Training and extension services also increased during the period.The net effect was a boost in agriculture production which continues today.
For the Maldives we are now at a juncture where we need major policy directives for the both agriculture and fisheries sectors.Fish landings have dropped dramatically during the last 2-3 years and landings seem to have stabilized around 100,000 MT. The reasons for the low catcher are complex and not very clear. However it is now widely believed that we maybe fishing at optimum levels so that we need to put emphasis on sustainability now. More efforts are now being put into value addition and diversification.To achieve this we are now working on many management issues through projects supported by IFAD and FAOMeanwhile the potential for agriculture is increasingly becoming realized for small holder farmers. We intend to link small holder farmer to the lucrative tourism industry via value chains so they can benefit from the conveniently available local markets. The process of development seem to affect the agriculture sectors adversely. The contribution to GDP from fisheries has declined with the increasing tourism developments.
We have seen that Rural island development in the Maldives are centered on fishing and farming activities. We have long been out of absolute poverty for the strong fishing sector and the role it plays in the livelihood enhancements. Backyard and home gardens continue to be an important source of income in rural semi urbanized islands. Mangoes, bananas, coconuts, breadfruits, guava and many other tree crops are important for income generation.Lack of markets and trading opportunities is the key constraint. The agriculture sector also is a major contributing factor for access to Housing health and education.
Maldives is better known around the world as a high end tourist destination. Unfortunately Tourism has not been a complementary industry for the agriculture sector over the years. With 600,000 tourists visiting the country each year potential markets for both agriculture and fisheries does exist in the country. But these have not been realized. IN the 70s Fishing used to be the main contributor to GDP. But now Tourism has taken over as the main source of revenue. There is a general movement of people out of agriculture and fisheries to tourism related jobs.Today Fisheries and Agriculture contributes just 5 percent to GDP and has been constantly dropping. On the other hand Tourism now contributes to 28 percent to GDP according the latest figures.Tourism has created better and more attractive job opportunities and employment but unfortunately not in favour of small holder farmers and fishers.We are now trying to formulate programs so that the lucrative tourism markets can tapped by small holder farmers and fisher communities..There is great potential for employment in the tourism sector which will continue to lessen the importance of the fisheries and agriculture sectors in development and poverty alleviation.
Agriculture and the tourism industry does not necessarily bring great benefits directly to each other the way it is now. They are more in conflict than in mutual agreements and understanding. Many conflicts exist between fishermen and tourist resorts. For example tourists want to see sharks live while fishermen want them dead. After many regulations and cat and mouse games the government banned all types of shark fishing this year altogether under pressure from the tourism industry. This led to loss of livelihoods for a number of shark fishermen. The “one island one resort” concept of tourism development allows resort operators to virtually bundles all economic activities on one private island. Hence they can grow their own fruits and vegetable if they please and they can also operate their own fishing boats to catch fish. This is a policy issue that we are now working on to find a solution.
It is observed that farming and fishing becomes less of an economic activity as islands become urbanized. In islands where the population has exceeded to a level whereby they are categorized as urban areas, all agricultural land is usually lost to housing development and other small industries. Interestingly development of the island was initially due to agriculture and fishing but development eventually gives way to other forms of economic activity such as construction, trade and services.Eventually the urban centers become centers for trade and services such as health care, education and other services. They also become the main markets for fish and agriculture produce.
It is observed that some islands are highly specialized in a particular agriculture or fishery activity. There is an island which grows just water melons. Their main crop is water melons and they grow this throughout the year. There are islands which are also specialized for fishery activities such as grouper fishing, harvesting sea cucumbers, lobster hunting.Still others are specialized at processing dried fish.This type of island are not many but they are better organised than others in their particular activity. These islands are very resilient against shocks and control their trade better collectively.Water melons.LobstersReef Fishing especially grouper fishingSea cucumbersHandicraftsConstruction work
IN the next few years agriculture development will see major changes in the Maldives. Under the new constitution of the Maldives a new administrative set up will come into effect in the next few months under the new decentralization law.Island and atoll councils will be elected. These are effectively separate municipalities who will deal with most of their affairs in line with government policy. It is anticipated that islands then will become more autonomous in manging their own affairs including those relating to fisheries and agriculture developments. It is hoped that will lead to better organization amongst farmer and fisher groups.The Maldives has administrative atolls each atoll consisting of a number of islands.
We recognize the need to pay more attention to the agriculture development for income generation and poverty alleviation in rural island communities.We have worked with donor communities to address the issues. We have developed projects which reach out to the farmers.We have tried to facilitate the organization of famers and fishers into cooperatives which is still almost unheard of and undeveloped in the Maldives. The concepts of farmer organizations, cooperatives and community based producer organizations are now being actively promoted.Our experience in trying to form cooperatives for seemingly obvious businesses have failed. The island communities do not see the benefits of these yet despite much effort.
We are putting a lot emphasis on ……………………Training centersDeveloping regulatory frameworksCommunity organization is a real challenge.Traditions and ways of life are difficult to be changedExample of one whole island doing fish processing individually. Little linkages between commercial operators and small holders
The biggest constraint and hindrance for agriculture development appears to be the lack of proper legal instruments to manage farm land and other agriculture related issues.Farmers use large quantities of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers. We have deep concerns over the sustainability of agriculture activities in small island environments.Pesticide laws and phyto sanitary laws as well as land laws are being drafted with assistance from FAOFor fisheries we have laws but revisions are needed in light of sustainable exploitation of fish and protection of habitats.
We are working withdonor organizations to reach out to small famers and fishers. Current FAO and IFAD’s activities focus onAssisting in setting up Agriculture Centers for trainingConstruction of fish markets which would enable fishers to land their catch and process them hygienicallyFisheries management systems are put in place in the form of vessel monitoring systems and a framework for monitoring control and surveillance.FisheriesHarbors and fish landing sites are planned to improve quality of fishFarmers are encouraged to organize into CBPOs and cooperatives. The benefits of such groupings are promoted. Our greatest challenge now is to develop Value Chains for local variety of produces for which small holder farmers and fishers would get better prices. We are just starting this complex process of engaging suppliers and producers into value chains. If this can be worked out we can see benefits of developing value chains for coconuts and fish the very products that we Maldivians have relied on for generations.
APR Workshop 2010-SS Cooperation Agricultural-development and poverty reduction Maldives
Agriculture Development and Poverty Reduction in the Maldives<br />Abdulla Naseer<br />Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture ,<br />Maldives<br />
The islands…<br />Chain of very small islands in the Indian Ocean<br />1200 small coral islands<br />Combined land area of all islands: 300 sq km<br />
Island use<br />About 200 islands are inhabited<br />Approximately 150 islands developed for tourism and other industries<br />35 Islands are leased for commercial farming<br />Remaining islands are used mainly for agriculture and fishery related activities<br />Smallest inhabited island: 4 ha (fishing community)<br />Largest inhabited island: 500 ha (farming community)<br />
Population<br />Population: 320,000 <br />Under 18 : 100,000<br />Old age +65: 15,000<br />GDP (2010): 906 million US$<br />Per capita GDP: 2,834 US$<br />Fisheries and Agriculture contribution: 5%<br />
Population distribution on Islands<br />A third of the population (100,000) lives in Male’<br />75 islands = <500 people<br />105 islands = 500 – 2000 population<br />12 islands = 2000 – 5000<br />3 islands = 5000 – 10000<br />1 island = 10000 plus<br />
Fisheries Sector<br />Tuna Fishing: over 100,000 MT of fish landed annually<br />Over 1000 tuna pole and line boats<br />Fishing method utilizes a high workforce by design – other methods banned<br />Fish processing by small holder fishers<br />10,000 to 15,000 fishermen and small holder processors<br />Women participation high in fish processing<br />
Catch Share systems and fishing method<br />These are key to the income distribution poverty alleviation in rural fisher communities<br />Fishing boats employ a complex traditional system of sharing the catch<br />A good catch means everyone benefits <br />Usually the boat owner gets a larger share<br />Pole and line method maintains a large fishing population <br />
Fish processing<br />Small holder fishers<br />Mostly women involved<br />Home kitchen <br />Dry and packaging<br />Large sector in reduction of poverty<br />Currently affected by commercial operators<br />
Fish processing concessions<br />No taxation or royalties levied from small holder fish processors<br />These concessions to small holders are sometimes abused by larger middlemen affecting small holder activities<br />Small holder fishers are at risk of losing advantages to such activities<br />
Fisheries Development<br />In the past 3 decades the fisheries sector has developed with much concessions<br />Loans have been provided for boats and engines consistently<br />The sector has grown constantly under government inputs in the form of boat building, freezing and canning facilities <br />
Fisheries Development<br />Exemption of duties for imports of materials and equipment<br />Investments in fish purchasing centers<br />Fisheries developed fast with open access<br />Policy shifts now to management and sustainability<br />
Fisheries Policy changes<br />Loans have moved from Government to Banks<br />Local market development<br />Development of Urbanized Islands and privatization.<br />Health and education developed at these centers<br />
Agriculture Sector<br />Agriculture crops: water melons, bananas, taro, leafy vegetables, pumpkins,<br />Mangoes, breadfruit, coconut products<br />Most fruits and vegetables are imported.<br />Farming done on small plots of land: average size: 5-10,000 sq ft<br />Poor soil and heavy use of fertilizers<br />Traditional methods<br />
The “tsunami effect”<br />Since the tsunami agriculture production has increased notably <br />Agri inputs were provided to all tsunami affected island <br />Training programs were conducted <br />Many projects were launched with FAO, IFAD, ADB, WB assistance amongst many others. <br />Few of these are ongoing 5 years on<br />
Agriculture development<br />Fishing the dominant sector has stabilized at a 100,00 MTs<br />Agriculture output is increasing and much effort need to be put in to develop agriculture.<br />Process of overall development has shrunk the agriculture sectors.<br />The contribution to GDP from fisheries and agriculture has declined with tourism development<br />Agriculture has the potential to expand in terms poverty alleviation and GDP contribution<br />
Economic development on islands<br />Growth of island economies are largely related to fishing and farming in most islands<br />Backyard gardens/farming very important for income generation<br />Market accessibility is the main constraint <br />Very few established markets <br />Housing, health and education are strongly related to the agriculture sectors - fishing<br />
Tourism and Agriculture<br />Tourism started in the early 70’s<br />Fishing was the dominant economic activity then<br />Since then revenue from Tourism has taken over Agriculture sectors.<br />Tourism created many jobs but not for small farmers and fishers<br />Tourism was also to create new markets for local produce<br />
Negative impacts of Tourism<br />Conflicts between fishers and tourism industry<br />Tourism related bans of fish species <br />The one island one resort concept<br />Resorts grow their own fruits and vegetables<br /> Resorts also operate their own fishing boats<br />Overall loss of income for communities<br />
Development effects<br />Loss of farms and fishing seem to be the norm with economic diversification on islands<br />3 of the most developed islands now do little farming or fishing<br />Urban development paves the way for competition for land <br />Activities such as construction and other industries quickly take over<br />
Island specialization<br />Specialized rural farmer and fisher communities exist and they are very successful in overall development of the island<br />One island where water melons are the key crop grow amongst few others.<br />Islands where only a certain type of fishery is practiced: eg lobster fishing.<br />Many advantages of this type of specializations.<br />Becomes the driving force for overall development of health, education and housing<br />
Decentralization<br />Under the decentralization law new island councils will be elected in the next few months.<br />The new decentralized administration will have profound effects on agriculture development <br />Assistance need to be provided for the councils to manage agriculture <br />
New concepts<br />Ways to overcome constraints to markets and trading<br />Cooperatives and community based producer organizations<br />Met with skepticism and limited successes<br />Overall a very difficult concept to sell for small holder fishers and farmers<br />
New approaches<br />Training<br />Laws and regulations<br />Community based efforts<br />Promoting Integrated approaches<br />NGO involvement – new concepts<br />Training centers being developed <br />Linkages between commercial operators and small holder farmers<br />Supply contracts<br />
Need for Legislation and regulation<br />No agriculture law<br />Agriculture related laws are now being drafted with assistance from FAO<br />Fisheries Law is under review<br />Agriculture related Land issues are difficult to be address due to lack of legislation<br />
The way ahead<br />Training and skills development<br />Sustainable fisheries management<br />Quality assurance<br />Value chain development – <br />