The Maldives is a series of small and remote islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. Its economy is dependent primarily on tourism and fisheries. Fish provides the principal source of animal protein for the population, and almost half of the catch is consumed locally.
Fisheries used to be the largest contributor to the Maldivian GDP. However, the sector’s performance is highly cyclical and unpredictable and is constrained by limited export species. In recent years, the contribution of fisheries to GDP has fallen due to a declining catch, increased fuel prices and illegal fishing by foreign vessels.
The decrease in captured fish is one of the causes of rising rural poverty. The national unemployment rate is 12 per cent, but among young people it is almost double that, at 22 per cent, and for young women it is even higher, at 30.5 per cent.
The islands that comprise Maldives are widely dispersed and have a low population density. This increases the cost of living, including for transport, and of delivering essential social and administrative services.
IFAD's strategy in the Maldives is to reduce the vulnerability of households whose livelihoods depend on smallholder agriculture and fish processing.
The aim is to develop smallholder agriculture value chains and the Maldives fish processing value chain through market-driven commercialization and diversification. This will help to raise the incomes of smallholders and people engaged in fisheries and processing activities.
The Maldives consists of 1,192 small tropical islands that cross strategic shipping routes, and it has a richly diverse marine environment.
By 2015 estimates, 54 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.
Since 1982, IFAD has approved US$18.2 million in loans and grants for six programmes and projects related to agricultural development, benefiting more than 22,700 households.