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07 February 2020

Mr. Chair,
President of IFAD,
Distinguished Governors and delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor and privilege for my delegation and I to be here today. On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Maldives, let me first take this opportunity to thank and commend Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD for his excellent contribution to IFAD and Maldives in the past eight years of his great leadership. Together we have achieved much over the years. In advance, I would also like to congratulate the new President that we are going to elect very soon. I wish the new President all the success in taking this organization to new heights.

I would also like to thank the Government and people of this beautiful city, Rome and IFAD officials and staff for the warm hospitality and reception they have extended to me and my delegation.

Like many other small island developing states, Maldives too faces a number of constraints in seeking to fit into the global economy. Our population of around 350,000 is dispersed over about two hundred islands, scattered over 800 kilometers, North to South in the vast Indian Ocean. As a result our markets are small; our natural resource base is narrow, fragile and prone to disruption by natural disasters. The economy of Maldives is heavily dependent on just two main industries, fisheries and tourism for the country's fiscal revenues, foreign exchange earnings, employment and domestic production. Despite these limitations, with the assistance of organizations like IFAD, Maldives has achieved remarkable progress in terms of economic and social development. Due to demographic nature of the country, small communities in the outer atolls are more vulnerable and depend heavily on fisheries and agriculture for sustenance and livelihoods. That is where IFAD has been very helpful.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen,

Like in other SIDS, Maldives has a very narrow base for economic development.  Fisheries and agriculture continue to contribute to the economy apart from huge strides in tourism development. Tourism is very vulnerable to external factors and therefore, Fisheries and Agriculture is only ways to diversify our economy. We are taking advantage of the world-renowned tourism industry to widening the markets for agricultural produce from community-based cooperatives that this great organization has helped to establish. We are convinced that such initiatives will foster growth in the agriculture and fisheries sector leading to food security, poverty alleviation and increased income for smallholder farmers and fishers. Over 50% of the registered farmers in the Maldives are women, hence assistance in agriculture also helps us to empower women in Maldives.

As we are at the last year of cooperative development project, we need to reflect on our achievements and learn from each other on the successes and failures in the cooperative model for agriculture and fisheries development. But it is our hope that the current program can be extended with fresh funding to develop more community based cooperatives in the Maldives. We have focused on Value Chain development, growth and promotion of cooperatives and policy changes conducive to the formation, growth and stability of cooperatives. The government of Maldives has centralized policies to foster Cooperatives.

Fisheries and Agriculture Diversification Project, under IFAD’s loan and grant assistance to the Maldives has been instrumental in strengthening the relevant sector capacities. It has led to the introduction of new technologies and an overall increase in incomes to farmers and fishers in the outer islands of the Maldives. 

The formation of Cooperatives with a focus on increasing production, marketing and establishing linkages with distributors and consumers, has been an integral achievement of the project. In addition, the training and capacity development at technical, managerial and entrepreneurial, have strengthened community participation in agriculture and fishery production and development. This in turn has increased market confidence for agriculture and fishery products - both fresh and value added.

With the experience of current Value Chain model on Fisheries and Agricultural Diversification Programme, we are confident in the development of new Value Chain Cooperatives within minimal duration with more development and sustainable business impact for much needed communities.     

        Revenue from Marine resources is a key focus area of Maldives government. With the nations focus on establishing mariculture resources to acquire benefits from vast marine area, IFAD grant project of Mariculture Enterprise Development project has provided opportunity to enhance income and employment prospects for the low-income communities. The project focuses on to expand livelihood opportunities and reduce vulnerability, especially for youth and women. These objectives are to be achieved through Institutional Strengthening, and Mariculture Value Chain Development.

The employment opportunities provided to the farmers and fishermen especially fish processors and women groups in the islands, has had a big overall impact on the island development. And IFAD’s focus on National Gender policy envisions development and funding of projects in areas that would generate employment for women.

In conclusion, I would like to express our gratitude to IFAD for the assistance and the role it plays in the development of our national capacity in economic and social sectors. Over the years, its effort to improve the quality of life of the rural population through development projects had momentous impacts. I hope that the Maldives and IFAD can continue to work together in sustainable development, which we so desire.