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Creating an Urban Farming Ecosystem

September 29, 2021 : 12:17 pm

Urban agriculture has found its way to the city!

Housing Development Corporation, as part of the Sustainable Economic Empowerment for Development of MSMEs (SEEDS) project, funded by Government of Japan and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Maldives, has launched a Community Urban Farming project, designed as an urban agriculture incubation programme for young and new generation farmers.

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions has pushed more urbanites to find ways to carry on. One such method has been growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and other produce in empty spaces around their homes, in small plots of land and even in containers placed at balconies. Urban dwellers have been seeing this as a whole new way to cope with the pandemic, with some using it to seek an ease to their financial worries at this difficult time. Urban farming has transformed the minds and lives of many who have embraced this green wave, with many reaping the benefits of food grown within their homes and neighborhood.

The SEEDs project was formulated to respond to the initial findings of a rapid livelihoods assessment jointly conducted by the Government of Maldives and UNDP, to understand the impacts of COVID-19. The project aims to provide economic rehabilitation in order to mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in the Maldives. It is focused on increasing agriculture production and promoting food security through an approach of building entrepreneurship amongst farmers and creating a new generation of agri-businesses that are innovative, productive and practices environment-friendly agriculture. The project will also provide technical support and capacity to the Government of Maldives to conduct support services for MSMEs to adapt to the “new normal”.

The prioritized objectives of the Community Urban Farming project undertaken by HDC also aligns with numerous strategies of the Government’s Strategic Action Plan (SAP), falling under Blue Economy for Small and Medium Enterprises and Agriculture sectors. Specifically, the strategies and actions related to development of Agri-centres, standardizing food production and quality of produce, establishing urban gardening models, strengthening agricultural data collection mechanisms and increasing the efficiency of resource allocation through capacity building. Furthermore, the project also supports incorporation of entrepreneurship education into TVET programmes and integration of technological support for start-ups through business incubator platforms.

This is the first project that HDC has successfully initiated with an international donor fund. The Community Urban Farming project is being undertaken with support from the residents of Hulhumalé ‘. HDC is currently working towards an extension of this project with a plaza area to display and sell farmers’ produce.