Farmers – Produce – Water: By Lino DeBono
|Email item||Print item||
“The Government announcement that it will be providing the second class water to Full Time Farmers – also Part Time Farmers and all others small time individuals, is one to be applauded and approved by one and all. As I have been informed there are only three outlets from where this water can be gotten in both Malta and Gozo.
Apart from one paying 25 euros annually to enlist in this scheme, one till now also has to hire a bowser to transport water from one of these three outlets to his fields. This for an individual who only has a field or two will be costly and not worth enlisting for this facility. So at present, the latter individuals are better off to wait for the extensions.
It has been heard in the gossips that water dams may be constructed to save both the water cascading from valleys to the sea and also as a means to percolate and enhance the underground water reservoirs. Underground reservoirs that are being dangerously close to extension due to the numerous boreholes in use by many.
Our Islands have always had lack of water, so it is very important that water is saved and the underground reservoirs vigorously preserved and relinquished.
Full time farmers are slowly but surely diminishing for various reasons. One major aspect is that there is a limitation to land distribution after inheritance.
By time extended families are dividing their properties and areas as so being reduced. Still those people who have small plots still cater these areas and produce good quantities of vegetables for their immediate families.
Several also try to sell part of their produce for the local market but are unable to do so as they are exploited by the price offered.
The Supermarkets in Malta and Gozo are not helping either as these are importing all their produce from overseas. So how can our Farmers – Part-Timers and small individuals be helped in the selling of their produce?
As I also enjoy working in the small field producing kitchen vegetables and fruit without any pesticides, there are many others as myself who not only produce for their family but have excesses from their work. In generality there is no assistance for these kind of people. So I would like to venture on some solid suggestions.
Old local products such as the Comino Black & White Plums are now non-existent. These had a different texture and sweetness different from the present ones which were introduced in our Market from overseas. The Governmental Farm do not cultivate or promote these trees. Pity.
The famous old produce of the local tomato which all locals used to paste on a piece of oiled bread has vanished from our Islands due to the importation of tomatoes seeds most adaptable for the brewers.
One can hardly find this type of seeds of these tomatoes in Gozo or Malta. Only a handful of farmers still have it. The Governmental Farms do not have it or are in any way conserving this type of local tomatoes. Why Not? That is my question. I believe that old type of farmers knew what was best for them. Why not nowadays?
Why is the frenzy of doing away with local old time practices accumulated through hundreds of years for foreign ones? This when locals were served quite well with these types of produce.
During my time in Parliament, the Government initiated a system of opening and introducing new Markets in Libya by selling local goats. Many local herders profited from this new market and made quite a financial killing on selling our local products.
The local Maltese goat with the big black ears was the best in producing of milk and adaptable to the Libyan weather as well. Also another market was opened mostly in Holland of exporting our local potatoes which were and are still classified as the best.
So why can’t our Government officials once again find and open foreign markets for the Amateurs – Part-Timers and also full Time Farmers to sell the Old Type of local Tomatoes (after re-introducing the seeds and plants in the Governmental Farms), Potatoes and Onions? Which products are in abundance locally?
For me it is a deadly sin to see prickly pears which are abundant in our Islands being imported from overseas. This is still a mystery for many as locally we have so many of these, not only so but normally these are being left to erode and dry away all over our Islands.
Can the Ministry responsible for Agriculture start a process of taking the bull by the horns and initiate markets investment for these projects overseas?
In and by these openings all the citizens involved, whether individual amateurs – Part or Full-Time, can benefit from their products and work. Any small – medium or large income generated is always welcomed by one and all.
There are thousands of these small and part timers in our Islands which can contribute and also benefit. All that is needed is imagination, willingness and initiative.”