The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) signed Tuesday (8 Mar) with the government of Maldives a Country Programming Framework (CPF) that it’s aimed at supporting the country’s efforts to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better, increasing resilience to further shocks and addressing development needs.
The signing ceremony concluded a two-day visit (7-8 March) of the FAO’s Director-General Qu Dongyu to Maldives, during which Qu met Vice President of the Republic of Maldives, Faisal Naseem, government ministers and members of civil society. Director-General also visited a hydroponic farm, which grows leafy greens without using soil and a fish processing factory.
Qu reaffirmed FAO support for and cooperation with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in driving agrifood systems transformation and inclusive growth.
He also pledged FAO’s continued support in the drive for climate resilient agriculture and fisheries, reducing food loss and waste, building an innovative and digitalized agrifood systems, and support for the empowerment of more women and youth to actively contribute to the sector.
FAO Director-General highlighted the importance of investment and innovation to enhance connectivity among rural communities whose livelihoods depend on fisheries and agriculture, helping them to access markets and services.
Maldives has a longstanding relationship with FAO since becoming a Member Nation in 1971. The Organization has prioritized the development of Maldives and other SIDS to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and transform agrifood systems to make them more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are at the centre of FAO work because of their vulnerability to the climate crisis and other shocks and their importance in the protection of marine biodiversity.
To this end, FAO has established an Office for Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries - the first ever in the UN system - and is equipped to provide technical expertise for SIDS solutions to generate income in the agriculture and fishery value chains, including through private sector partnerships.
Scattered around the globe with some 65 million inhabitants, SIDS account for only one per cent of global CO2 emissions, but they bear the brunt of the effects of climate change on their fragile economies.
Maldives in many ways typifies the challenges SIDS face. Precipitation changes and rising temperatures are affecting a food production that relies only on 65 square km of agricultural land.
Depending on food imports, except for fisheries, the population of Maldives is suffering the effects of unhealthy diets, resulting in high rates of Non-Communicable Diseases. The country is also acutely vulnerable to fluctuating commodity prices, exacerbated by COVID-19, which has battered its vital tourism industry.