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EU Common Agricultural Policy round table event

European Commission Representation head Martin Bugelli said Malta’s challenges were still its geography and characteristics, such as its type of soil.

European Commission Representation head Martin Bugelli said Malta’s challenges were still its geography and characteristics, such as its type of soil.

A sound Common Agricultural Policy provides the right instruments to farmers in different agricultural realities to operate sustainable practices which produce adequate high-quality food at competitive prices, a round table event heard recently.

The event, part of ‘Return to the Future’, an EU-funded campaign in Bulgaria, Estonia, Malta and Portugal, marking 50 years since the CAP was introduced to ensure sufficient food provision to the EU population, was held at Floriana’s Grand Hotel Excelsior. It was attended by agricultural representatives and stakeholders from the four countries, which have similar farming realities.

European Commission Representation head Martin Bugelli said Malta’s challenges were still its geography and characteristics, like the level and type of soil. Malta needed instruments to compete not only with other EU countries but also with non-member states. He called for better understanding of the member states’ different agricultural realities to ensure a CAP that catered for the individual and specific needs of the different farming communities, while protecting food safety, the environment and animal welfare.

“Small member states like Malta deserve preferential treatment that reflects the country’s agricultural reality,” said Justin Zahra, director of agriculture at the Resources and Rural Affairs Ministry. He said the CAP is vital to provide Maltese farmers the right instruments to develop their activity at a profit.

“Since Malta joined the EU, the value added that CAP brought to Maltese agriculture was among, other things, the transformation which took place in the way farmers operate and the technology they now have. The farmers’ mindset became more professional. Malta today has fewer farmers but a better quality product,” Dr Zahra added.

Kooperattivi Malta’s Francis Galea warned that Maltese produce was suffering due to stiff competition from imports. He explained that Maltese agriculture and biodiversity would benefit from better education of farmers and consumers. The CAP could also be more flexible in facilitating education, research and exchanges of know-how, human capital and ideas among member states, he added.

Majjistral Action Group Foundation’s Marisa Marmarà ex­plained why a new CAP 2014-2020 will favour short supply chains to create greater value added to producers and the sustainability of the food chain. The benefit of such an approach is that the farmer supplies according to demand, curbing wastage of produce and resources, and increasing quality and sustainability.

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