Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Planning and environment issues raised by young farmers

The revision of the Rural Policy has been discussed during a meeting held yesterday with Hon. Aaron Farrugia at Casa Leone. The Minister expressed willingness to assist in environmental and planning issues that can improve the situation of farming in Malta. The overall outcome of the meeting was positive and more discussions will be held between MaYA and MECP in the near future. 

Ms. Jeanette Borg, Mr. Karl Scerri and Mr. Jorge Spiteri from the MaYA Foundation attended the meeting. Mr. Cyrus Engerer from MECP was also present for the meeting. 

MaYA meeting with Hon. Aaron Farrugia

Here is a short summary about the points we have raised during the meeting;

- The primary aim of the policy should be to enable genuine farmers to operate and invest in a sustainable manner. Bona fide farmers need to be given more credit and priority. Farmers are the most important stakeholders in rural areas; as food producers and guardians of the countryside.

- There is an urgent need to facilitate planning applications for water harvesting interventions. Water scarcity remains one of the most pressing issues in our country and without water harvesting solutions, farmers would need to resort to other sources of water that are not necessarily sustainable. 

- Permitting issues related to agri-storage facilities and cold stores also need to be given priority and allow for flexibility. 

- Every specific sub-sector has its own planning requirements. Such requirements may change over time due to industry forces. 

- There is a need to improve how we define an active farmer and basic land management criteria for planning and permitting purposes. In order to allow innovation and diversification, policies need to be flexible enough to allow genuine and legitimate investments. 

- Policies are only documents and not law - boundaries are set rather than hard fixed rules. A policy needs to give a clear direction, rather than give specific details of what can, and cannot be done. In our opinion, this is why certain difficulties arise when adjudicating projects. On the other hand, such policies can lead to new laws. 

- Relevant authorities need to be allocated more resources for the effective eradication of alien and invasive species. 

- Bureaucracy is hindering progress in the agriculture sector. Any efforts to consolidate and reduce fragmentation within government entities would be welcome. 

To view the feedback document prepared by MaYA and ACT click here.

Should you wish to submit feedback and suggestions, you may do so by sending an email on info@maya.org.mt.

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