The government has decided to allocate plots of lands for agricultural purposes from islands that have land availability. A guideline has been developed for the purpose.
In a news brief held Saturday night, Agricultural Minister Zaha Waheed said the ministry is working jointly with the Planning Ministry to allocate unused land in islands for agricultural purposes. No fees will be charged to use the land for a period of three years, said the minister.
Minister Zaha further said after allocating the lands, they will be monitored to ensure that the lands are being used for the intended purpose. The lands are being allocated as per the land use plan and agreements will be signed between the councils and the farmers to whom the areas will be assigned to.
Minister Zaha revealed that the agricultural products produced by the farmers will be purchased by the government through the State Trading Organisation (STO), effective from May 1. Even now, some local formers have such arrangements with STO.
Those who wish to obtain loans for agricultural ventures can do so through the SME bank. The government has also deferred the repayment of existing agricultural loans for a period of six months. Furthermore, opportunities will be provided to those who are interested in setting up an agricultural ventures in uninhabited islands. The government will assist in providing seeds for planting as well, added Minister Zaha.
Providing additional details on the matter, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail said the government had already designated 44 islands for agricultural purposes, and the government has been purchasing agricultural products grown on the islands. Minister Fayyaz further said the government would assist in cultivating 17 types of products which are identified as staples and essential food products. Other assistance that will be given includes the provision of seeds, technical training and loans required to set up agricultural ventures.
Minister Fayyaz added that the government would purchase the agricultural products and will even sell to the resorts when the resorts are reopened. The government will collect the items from the islands, and collection centres will be set up in various regions of the Maldives, said Minister Fayyaz.
Even though until now 44 islands have been identified for agricultural purposes, there is still the opportunity for other islands to request for agrarian lands, added Minister Fayyaz.