President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met with Farmers from Kandoodhoo Island of Kolhumadulu Atoll, sharing their concerns regarding their needs and difficulties in farming, producing and selling agricultural products. The discussion was held late this afternoon at the Kandoodhoo Harbour area.

Speaking at the meeting, President Solih assured the farmers that there are various opportunities for farming and high demand for local produce in the Maldives. He urged the farmers to take part in the activities conducted by Agro National Corporation (AgroNAT), a state-owned enterprise with the overall mandate to assist in developing the agricultural sector. He detailed the opportunities and eases made available to farmers through the AgroNAT Corporation.

The Kandoodhoo farmers divulged several details of the most pertinent issues faced by them. They said that regardless of the government reducing duty charges from chemicals imported for farming, it didn't provide any benefits to the farmers but rather benefitted the businesses importing such chemicals. Further, they noted that the AgroNAT scheme does not include chilli pepper farming, one of their main products, and requested to look into fair pricing strategies for locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they raised concerns regarding the availability of farming equipment and resources, as well as the technical expertise required for the advancement of the sector. Farmers also revealed that there were some undocumented foreigners working in Kandoodhoo Farms and asked President Solih to accommodate a way to regularise them as documented foreign workers.

President Solih answered the concerns raised by the farmers regarding their needs, stating that the government was considering a policy to levy a tax from companies importing goods already produced and available locally. He also said that he would look into the matter of providing technical expertise and regularising the mentioned undocumented foreign workers, and that all other concerns raised by the farmers would be raised with the relevant government agencies to find swift and efficient solutions.

The President’s visit to Kandoodhoo Island is the sixth destination in his ongoing trip to the seven islands of Kolhumadulu Atoll. Cabinet ministers accompany the President, as well as senior officials from the President’s Office and a delegation of high-level government officials.