|Abstract: ||This report discusses the findings of a social and environmental impact study under the
proposed development of agriculture on Faadhoo, Lhaviyani Atoll. The project is proposed by
Open Blue Pvt. Ltd.
The project aims to use Faadhoo island for agriculture, and produce both local varieties, and
some of the imported food. Among the proposed activities to be carried out on the island include
the horticulture of watermelons, papayas, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, salads, and mushrooms.
Under the proposed project, there will be clearance of about 1.7ha of the land for construction
of necessary infrastructure and construction of a jetty for access to the island. Services related
to the proposed project such as water, sewerage, energy and waste will also be established
during the construction phase.
At present, Faadhoo is an uninhabited island not used for any official industrial or recreational
purpose. There are two wetland areas listed as an environmental sensitive area (by EPA) on the
island. The larger of the two wetlands has a mangal vegetation of 2.8ha (including the water
body), dominated by Rhizophora mucronata (Ran’doo) and Bruguiera cylindrica (Kandoo);
while the smaller one has a mangal vegetation of 0.5ha; with same species of mangroves. The
proposed project activities will not fall within the boundary of these areas and the proponent
has included a buffer zone between the ESA and project infrastructure.
The small size of the Maldivian islands, and the absence of adequate natural freshwater supplies
make it hard for the majority of food in the Maldives to be grown and harvested on a commercial
scale within the country. Furthermore, climatic factors render it difficult to produce the
imported food as well. However, there are some species such as melons, papayas, tomatoes,
bananas, various herbs, and salads which can be farmed and harvested economically. The
produce can be sold to the tourism industry, which imports majority of the agricultural products
from other countries. Hence, the main goal of this project is to develop the agricultural industry
of the Maldives, and to potentially cater for the market demand from tourism, as well as the
Alternatives for the proposed project have been identified in this document. These include
alternative uses of the island such as development of the island as an ecotourism site due to the
presence of a mangrove site, or leaving the island as it is in its natural state, which in the future may potentially increase the value of the island. The consultants recommend exploring use of
renewable energy alternatives highlighted as well as organic farming and vertical farming to
increase efficiency of space usage under this project.
Environmental impacts were assessed for both the construction and operation phase of the
project. Most of the environmental impacts of the project have been identified as minor
negative, with positive socio-economic impacts, especially if the agricultural methods are done
organically, or with limited use of fertilisers and pesticides. The main negative impacts from
the project include biomass and habitat loss from vegetation clearance, sedimentation and
consequent impacts on marine wildlife, and waste generation and effluents, especially during
the operational phase. The mitigation measures outlined for these impacts include conserving
mature trees to the greatest possible extent, creating vegetation buffer zones, and habitat
corridors, using organic agricultural methods, using natural biofertilizers and pesticides and
establishing dust and emission control plans, in addition to employing best-practice guidelines
for agriculture during the operational phase. The most positive socio-economic impacts related
to the project are reduction in prices of agricultural produce, and increase of national revenue,
and job opportunities.
A monitoring mechanism to ensure the effectiveness of the proposed project is also included in
this document. This monitoring component allows for the assessment of changes that will occur
during the construction and implementation of the proposed agriculture project. Monitoring is
specifically focussed on environmental aspects such as ground and marine water quality,
changes in the hydrodynamics of the project area, as well as impacts on the reef or marine
ecological area, agricultural methods, and social aspects such as labour and occupational health
and safety aspects.
In conclusion, the proposed project is justified in terms of environmental impacts based on
predicted economic and social benefits of the project. As such, the consultants are of the opinion
the project may proceed as proposed; provided the recommended mitigation measures and
environmental monitoring program is implemented.|