Saudiyya Kuda Manik (41) lives in Isdhoo Kalaidhoo in the Maldives where her family has been farming for generations. When the tsunami hit, the wave washed away the crops leaving little behind but salinated land.
“There was not one seedling left to be replanted,” Saudiyya recalled.
Two years later she was back on the land with a group of farmers. The seven members of the farming group, consisting of five women and two men, were given a cash grant by the British Red Cross so they could pool their resources.
Saudiyya said the grants have helped them set up the farm where they grow numerous varieties of fruit and vegetables, including chillies, cucumber, sweet potato and papaya both for themselves and to sell locally.
She explained: “We often come down here and work individually on the smaller jobs, like clearing weeds, watering and planting, but come together as a group for the bigger things such as digging holes for water.”
Farming in the Maldives
Saudiyya picked a large cucumber and explained that the group had been selling ten kilos of cucumbers a day during Ramadan and that the previous day they had sold a big sack of sweet potatoes. The small-scale farming takes a huge amount of work and the group has devised a chart to ensure that it is equally shared.
“It will be sustainable because this is what we have been doing all our lives,” she said. “Our forefathers were brought up with this livelihood and this is what we have been taught.”
The group also participated in an agricultural training programme organised by the British Red Cross in conjunction with the Maldivian government Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine Resources.
At the 12 day-long workshop, they learnt a number of farming practices such as how to plant trees, to identify plant disease and how to ensure the plants receive the nutrients they need. With the help they have received they hope to continue farming for years to come.
“We will not give up but will build the farm back as we will never be satisfied if we don’t get to eat our own produce that we have grown with our own hands,” she said.
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