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Agriculture organisations call on Government to find an immediate solution

Agriculture organisations are calling for an immediate solution to the unprecedented threat faced by farmers working on privately owned land. This threat comes after latest developments saw the Agricultural Leases Board evicting farmers from the land which they manage. The decision is a result of a Constitutional Court case in November 2020 which deemed that the present Law was protecting the farmer yet going against the Constitution, since it denies fundamental rights to the landowners.

Photo: Tessa Mercieca

That is why 18 organisations are reiterating that this is a very dangerous situation that can lead to the exodus of farmers; resulting in a huge social and environmental negative impact. As a consequence, dozens of farmers will lose their livelihood, while the land they manage will fall in the hands of those who have neither the intention nor knowledge on how to farm it, or utilised for purposes that are not necessarily agricultural.

In the meantime, the strategy launched by the Government for the country to recover from the pandemic, mentions how we need to improve food security, while protecting and strengthening our country’s food production. It also points out that farmers should be assisted to strengthen their position as land managers.

It is evident that in some cases, the rent money paid for private land is ridiculous, and therefore it would be wise to revise such prices so that landowners would be more justly compensated. However, such a price must never be based on the land’s market value. Agricultural land has social and environmental purposes, and therefore, its value cannot be determined only by the lands’ commercial prices. The primary scope of agricultural land is food production that is accessible and affordable to everyone. Therefore, the producers’ profit margins can never afford high rents as these costs would not be economically feasible.

That is why agricultural organisations are calling on the Government to intervene urgently to find a solution that would make sense for all. The agricultural sector can serve as an economic pillar, however for this to happen decisions need to be made so that farmers can have all the necessary resources to thrive.

This statement was endorsed by:

1. Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation

2. Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi

3. Farmers’ Central Coop Society Ltd.

4. Koperattiva Bdiewa Mġarr

5. Koperattiva Bdiewa Qormi u Għawdex

6. Koperattiva Bdiewa Żabbar

7. Koperattiva Bdiewa Rabat

8. Koperattiva Bdiewa Dingli

9. Koperattiva Bdiewa Siġġiewi u Ħaż-Żebbuġ

10. Koperattiva Bdiewa San Pawl il-Baħar

11. Malta Beekeepers Association

12. Għaqda Produtturi ta’ l-Għasel Malti

13. Breeds of Origin Conservancy

14. Koperattiva tat-Tadam għal-Ipproċessar Ltd

15. Koperattiva Produtturi tat-Tadam

16. Vitimalta

17. Xirka Produtturi Nagħaġ u Mogħoż

18. Malta Organic Agricultural Movement

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