Maldives Industrial Development Free Zone (MIDFZ) has formalised a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to commence a large-scale sustainable agriculture project in Uthuru Thila Falhu. The project will lead to the establishment of an agricultural economic zone, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the Maldivian agricultural sector, according to MIDFZ.

MIDFZ, a consortium of five state-owned enterprises, the State Trading Organization (STO), Housing Development Corporation (HDC), Maldives Ports Ltd. (MPL), Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), and Maldives Airports Company (MACL), is headed by Shimad Ibrahim, the STO’s CEO and Managing Director.

The MoU paves the way for the development of requisite infrastructure and resources to bolster agricultural produce and further invigorate the agricultural sector, according to STO. Despite the Maldives’ historical reliance on imports, this initiative marks a significant departure from the status quo, said Ibrahim. He added that the project would equip local farmers with modern agricultural practices and generate employment opportunities, thereby fostering the mariculture and aquaculture sectors.

Mohamed Saeed, the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, stated that this project aligns with the administration’s vision and commitment to ensuring food security. He lauded it as a “major step forward by President [Mohamed Muizzu] in harnessing innovation and technology at an industrial scale to cultivate a diverse range of agricultural varieties in the Maldives.”

The MoU was signed on behalf of MIDFZ by STO’s CEO and Managing Director Shimad Ibrahim, while Mao Bao, the Country Manager of CHEC, a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), signed on behalf of CHEC.

The MoU will help ensure safe produce and food security, address challenges facing economic development, and promote investments in the country’s agriculture sector, according to STO. The agreement will see land reclamation and the development of primary infrastructure required for the agriculture economic zone.

CHEC will also develop agricultural, industrial, and terminal facilities for passengers and produce as part of the agreement. STO also said that the project envisions the development of fruit and vegetable farms and a dedicated facility to train farmers.