by ^ Johnny
Cabbages & Things – Fruit and Vegetable Farms in Fuamulaku
The Maldives is well known for its palm fringed beaches, lagoons teaming with marine life and elegant resorts, not fruit and vegetable farms. Fuamulaku a large 4.5 km long and 1.2 km wide isolated island in the Equatorial Channel, away from the more touristy islands has a very different reputation. It is where local farmers get to grow a range of vegetables and fruit for their own consumption and for commercial distribution. Composed of eight villages the inhabitants seem to be enthusiastic farmers.
Dogged by the lack of arable land as the country is geographically split into little islands large scale farming is all but impossible in the Maldives. However a range of crops have been successfully farmed in the country for several centuries based on shifting agricultural practices. Crops currently cultivated around the country fall into the categories of field, vegetable, fruit, spice, cash and plantation crops. Much of the fruits and vegetables come from home gardens and women play a huge role in the cultivation and management of crops. Faced with myriad difficulties including poor soil conditions the farmers of Fuamulaku have succeeded in adopting modern soil management and other farming techniques to get more productivity from their small plots of land. Visitors to the island are met with the astonishing sight of a green landscape bursting with fruit and vegetable cultivations stretching into the distance. While eggplant, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, ladies’ fingers, tomatoes, capsicums, pepper, spinach, pumpkin, chili and tapioca are some of the varieties of vegetables grown here pineapple, mango, banana and papaya are among the more popular fruits. Cash crops such as coconut and areca nut have been planted here as long as anyone can remember and in fact the name of the island is taken to mean areca nut.
The history of agriculture in the Maldives has been documented from the 17th century during which time varieties of millet, different types of roots, a variety of fruit, vegetable and coconut were cultivated in many islands. According to an account from the 1920s three varieties of grain, several species of yam, vegetables, fruits, coconut and areca nut were cultivated in home gardens. Studies in the 1980s documented a larger variety of grain, vegetable and food crops as being grown in the Maldives.
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