Capacity Development Maldives

Capacity building towards agricultural sustainability in the Maldives: does the voice of the Maldivian farmer need to be amplified in planning agricultural interventions?

A recent study undertaken in the Maldives investigated agricultural stakeholders’ views on capacity building towards sustainable agriculture. In this study, the views of 373 stakeholders were analysed and coded. Ten codes emerged from the data analysis, two of which are the subject for discussion in this paper. The first of the two codes examined stakeholders’ understanding of the term ‘sustainable agriculture’ and, the second code examined understanding of the term ‘building capacity in agriculture’. The two codes revealed a converging view amongst farmers that agricultural sustainability was inextricably linked to profitability. This was underpinned by increased production capacity fuelled by enhanced access to inputs and markets. Farmers further noted that the best vehicle through which capacity building towards profitability could be achieved was that of individualistic farming activity, either as sole farmers or family farming units. Conversely, the study noted that institutional agricultural capacity building interventions had a softer focus on profitability. Such interventions generally concentrated on improving islanders’ livelihoods and building food security through the establishment of collective producer and marketing cooperatives. This paper examines why intervention slippages occurred and suggests their recalibration in favour of assisting individualistic farming units in building capacity towards profitability and agricultural sustainability.