We reap what we sow
Today, we celebrate L-Imnarja, a feast associated with farming. I recently shared a few thoughts with farmers during a meeting regarding the 2014-2020 Rural Development Plan. Investment in the sector over the past 10 years has been phenomenal thanks to assistance received prior to EU accession together with the 2007-2014 Rural Development Programme, which alone provided €100 million.
This investment strengthened agricultural infrastructure, the number of greenhouses have increased, the production of fruit and vegetables is bigger, there are more vineyards and a substantial improvement in our farms has been registered. The agricultural produce offered to the consumer has improved. I only need mention milk, which obtained the EU quality mark, and our quality wines.
Much remains to be done. With the help of new work practices and technologies, we must continue to improve our methods to reduce production costs. Farmers’ work should better reflect the demands of consumers and we should continue to improve the marketing and availability of fresh products. Moreover, we must guarantee sustainability by encouraging more youths to enter the sector.
The sector needs to be better coordinated for the necessary next steps. We need business-minded leaders who may look at the bigger picture, from the field to the consumer’s plate. Together, we must recognise the next leap forward in the quality of products that are fresh and naturally Maltese – June 29.
I was struck by an article in the Italian newspaper La Stampa which sheds light on the realities in Italy and which may also be applied to our own.
The author pities those who are nostalgic for the Italian lira. Nostalgia for a previous way of life, rather than the old currency. It was a period when families were able to set some money aside and the economy was slowly growing.
Loans were worth double the amount they are now and inflation was tremendous, yet, it was a time when protectionism also existed. If we had to revert back to those days, Italians would line supermarkets with trolleys not to be filled with goods but with mountains of money that would have lost value. According to the latest more positive estimates, if Italy had to revert back to the lira, 30 per cent of national wealth would be lost in one day, as happened to Germany prior to World War II.
Those who fear the future and long for the past should be pitied. I am angered by politicians who know this yet opportunistically say the things people want to hear rather than what must be said. To those who are scared, there is only one thing we should say: whoever loses his way should not be tempted to go back but look to the future and find their way again. We should open our eyes to the empty promises that are being made in our country – June 28.
Together with the Prime Minister, I recently visited the works on the Family Park in Marsascala in an area that was previously used as a landfill. This park is being made possible through the investment of €6 million with the help of EU funds.
From December, families will be able to enjoy its numerous attractions, including landscape mazes, a rock climbing wall, an amphitheatre, horse tracks and cycling routes, an outdoor gym, picnic areas and a dog park. All these facilities complement Inspire’s present facilities.
Marsascala’s local organisations will also benefit from the park. Space will be made available from which the girl guides may operate, while sports recreational facilities, including a five-a-side football pitch, will be available. A farm within the park is being restored, where children may enjoy a petting farm and typical food products will be sold. Over 17,000 trees and bushes will be planted, which will be irrigated from a reservoir built on site.
A visitors’ information centre has been built, which will also serve as an entrance to the Sant’Antnin waste treatment plant. This centre will provide information about waste treatment and the generation of clean energy. The heat generated from the plant will be utilised to heat Inspire’s swimming pool, which is used mainly by people with special needs.
It is ironic that when the Water Park in Buġibba was launched last Saturday, there were those who claimed that we do not develop projects in the south of Malta – June 27.
“Just to let you know that I share your disappointment to the recent political developments. I think that Richard Cachia Caruana gave his whole life to his country and should have been thanked not humiliated in that way.”
I received this message from a Maltese person who works with the European Commission. I share the anger and disappointment expressed. A person who carried out one’s duties with the greatest dedication and correctness should not be politically assassinated in this way. I purposely let a week go by before writing this so as to let my emotions subside.
The Labour Party has reminded us of its vindictive character. Rather than use physical violence, it resorts to the worst form of moral violence against its opponents. Furthermore, the party has continued to manipulate certain people for its own ends. Rather than weaning the party off its old ways, Joseph Muscat is engaging in political opportunism that reduces politics to a ridiculous and vengeful game.
These tactics reduce politics to a personal battleground that ignores national interest and, in turn, alienates people with potential from serving their country. As Lino Spiteri aptly stated in a recent article, “politics, bloody politics gets in the way of everything in this cursed island of ours, not least because of people working behind the scenes according to their personal agenda” – June 26.
The author is Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs.