MIDFZ Initiates Agriculture Economic Zone for Enhanced Food Security

STO’s Managing Director, Shimad Ibrahim, and the Country Manager of the Chinese company, Mao Bao, posing for a photo after signing. – Photo: STO

Maldives Industrial Development Freezone (MIDFZ ) and China Harbour Engineering Company Limited have inked an MOU to spearhead the development of an Agriculture Economic Zone, a key initiative under President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s vision.

The agreement was signed by State Trading Organization (STO)’s Managing Director, Shimad Ibrahim, and Chinese company’s Country Manager, Mao Bao. STO is a partner of MIDFZ, along with other top state-owned enterprises.

Situated on reclaimed land in Uthuru Thila Falhu, this zone marks a pivotal stride towards bolstering food security, economic rejuvenation, and diminishing reliance on imported sustenance, as expressed by STO.

Highlighting the pressing need for food security, STO underscores that approximately 90 percent of food consumed in the country is imported, with sea fish as the sole exception. This stark dependence on imports, including essential commodities, underscores the imperative of safeguarding the nation’s food reservoir. Historically, Maldives has grappled with food security challenges due to its geographical layout and the scarcity of arable land.

Despite concerted efforts by the Maldivian government to nurture the agriculture sector, its contribution to the GDP remains meager, averaging less than 2 percent. STO emphasizes that the pact to establish an Agriculture Economic Zone heralds a pivotal moment in confronting these challenges head-on and fortifying food security.

Initiated during President Muizzu’s visit to China, this agreement signals a strategic alliance between the Maldivian government and China, tapping into the latter’s expertise and resources.

An Agriculture Economic Zone (AEZ) is envisioned as a specialized enclave geared towards amplifying agricultural productivity through robust infrastructural support. Historically, AEZs have proven instrumental in countries harnessing modern technology to fortify food security and augment export earnings.

The project’s scope encompasses land acquisition, primary infrastructure development, establishment of agricultural industrial parks, and the creation of passenger and freight terminals. Additionally, plans include setting up a vegetable and fruit manufacturing base, an agricultural resilience training facility, and a logistics hub to streamline distribution.

The Maldives Industrial Development Freezone, headed by President Muizzu, is poised to play a pivotal role. It will facilitate large-scale imports from neighboring countries, employing a re-export system to optimize profits. A collaborative endeavor of five state-affiliated entities—STO, Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), and Housing Development Corporation (HDC)—the MID heralds a new era of economic vitality and self-sufficiency for the Maldives.

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