Measure announced aimed at supporting agricultural holdings
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Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg has announced the measure for Investments in Agriculture with a total investment of €25 million, aimed at supporting agricultural holdings in Gozo and Malta within the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for Malta 2014-2020, to invest in cost-effective and environmentally efficient systems. Beneficiaries can include farmers or groups of farmers.
Ian Borg stated that through this sub-measure is expected that over 200 farmers will receive grants that can reach up to €150,000 per farmer, with an aid intensity of 50%. This measure will be complementing the three measures announced earlier this year, where €30 million were committed for farmers working agricultural land in accordance with specific agricultural practices that respect and support the environment.
The support under this operation will include on-farm support for investments in more efficient equipment, improvements aimed at both reducing energy consumption as well as capturing and storage of energy, and investments in agricultural waste management. Investments in water harvesting, such as new water reservoirs (giebja) as well as investments in improved crop storage or other activities to improve the quality of the product, are also eligible.
The measure also supports the construction, acquisition as well as improvements to immovable agricultural property; this may include buildings for specialised handling, storage, provision of ventilation, insulation and refrigeration.
In order to ensure maximum transparency and a level playing field for all, potential beneficiaries are being given a two month period so that they can adequately prepare for submission of their project proposals.
Beneficiaries will be selected through a competitive procedure and applications will be received in the first weeks of January 2017. An open rolling-call system will be adopted with periodical selection stages.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that all potential beneficiaries are reminded that eligible expenditure can only be committed to after the signing of an agreement between the farmer and the Managing Authority within the Funds and Programmes Division, Ministry for European Affairs and Implementation of the Electoral Manifesto.
Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Roderick Galdes stated that this measure will ensure that farmers and livestock growers will be able to increase efficiency in their farms.
This will ensure development in production and therefore strengthen competitiveness in the agricultural sector, as well as ensure sustainability in the use of natural resources. It is for these reasons, he continued to say, that "I encourage farmers and livestock growers to make the most out of this investment and apply."
Parliamentary Secretary Ian Borg concluded that the local agricultural sector is looking forward to such support to enable farmers in carrying out much needed investments in this competitive sector. It is therefore expected that this rural development measure will generate significant interest and, as such, this augurs well for the future of the Maltese agricultural sector.
Photograph: DOI/Reuben Piscopo