160 years of Il-Wirja ta’ Santa Marija agricultural show in Gozo
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Il-Wirja ta’ Santa Marija – the annual, traditional agricultural show has been inaugurated by the Minister for Gozo Dr Anton Refalo at the Villa Rundle public gardens in Victoria.
This very popular Agrarian Show is organised by the Agrarian, Industrial and Cultural Society of Gozo, during the feast of Santa Marija, and it has been taking place in Gozo since 1855.
The exhibits are open between the 13th and 15th of August and include produce, livestock, poultry, farm machinery, vegetables and song birds. There is also be local produce, artisan work and crafts, locally produced wines, oil and honey on display.This year commemorates 160 years from when the Agrarian, Industrial and Cultural Society of Gozo, organised the show for the first tine, when it was held at the primary school in Vajringa Street, Victoria, Gozo.
The Minister said that this exhibition showcases the fresh and finest local produce by Gozitan farmers and villagers.
Dr Refalo said that last year there were 4232 exhibits on display. “The Ministry for Gozo, attaches great importance to this traditional annual exhibition, with a strong belief that agriculture has great potential on the island, even though some are saying that this sector is dying a natural death.”The Minister spoke about the initiatives and schemes undertaken in recent months in respect of the Gozitan farmers and villagers. This includes the establishment of the Gozitan Confederation of Agriculture and Fisheries. “The Swiss look at farmers, pastoralists and fishermen as entrepreneurs; actors pursuing economic development in the primary sector; as well as recognising the social and environmental importance of their enterprises,” Dr Refalo said.
During the same year the Gozo Fodder Scheme was also introduced whereby farmers and breeders, can get aid towards the costs of transporting their grain to Gozo. “This demonstrates the clear commitment to this sector. helping it to continue to grow in Gozo, generate more jobs and provide an adequate income for the workers, the Minister said.
The Gozo slaughterhouse is being used much more efficiently, Dr Refalo said. “This is leading to a substantial improvement in the quality of meat being purchased by Gozitan housewives.”
At the same time it has saved the farmers any hassle of transportation to Malta and lessened the suffering of the animals themselves during the journey to the slaughterhouse in Malta, the Minister said. Meaning also less inconveniences for those passengers using the Gozo Channel ferries.
Dr Refalo praised the work of the Committee on the organisation of this very popular annual exhibition.
The Minister also said that as part of the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the exhibition the present Government will re-establish the monument commemorating the 100th anniversary.
Minister Refalo wished success for this exhibition and urged as many people as possible to attend. Gozo Bishop Mario Grech blessed carried out the traditional blessing.