Earlier today, One News featured a news item about the National Agricultural Policy for the Maltese Islands 2018 – 2028. This has been coupled with a public consultation process. Feedback can be submitted by the end of March and background notes have been provided on the Ministry website to guide those interested in submitting their ideas. A preliminary consultation has already been held at the National Agriculture Conference back in March 2016.
It is positive that the Prim Minister himself has dedicate time to launch such an event. One of the frequent comments that representatives of the sector pass on, is that agriculture has never been a priority for the Maltese government. One may argue that the agricultural sector represents just above 2% of Malta’s GDP, but in reality this sector was and still has a multifunctional role.
The representatives of the sector have always been at the forefront to provide feedback, so much so that a Consultative Council has been set up a couple of years ago under this same administration. This council had two levels of representation; a) a group of technical experts, and b) two sub-committees of industry representatives. These representatives used to meet up once a month. The feedback provided by the members of the sub-committees was then passed on to the board of experts. However to date, meetings stopped happening and representatives are still waiting for action to be taken on actions that were recommended during these sessions.
The national policy is a good step in the right direction but farmers and other stakeholders are calling for immediate and continued actions. This sector does not need partisan politics, but one concerted effort to be drawn by all those in power. After all, agriculture should be an issue of national interest since it is all about the food we produce and our surrounding environment.