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Watch: What could stop farmers' haemorrhage in Malta?

Competition putting pressure to improve output

Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Farmers are complaining that they might be a dying breed but what could stop the haemorrhage and make it worth their while?

The deputy director of Mcast’s Centre for Agriculture, Aquatics and Animal Sciences, Malcolm Borg, admitted that competition from imported goods is often frequently cited as putting pressure on prices.

However, the National Statistics Office reports show that the amount of fruit and vegetables sold in 2015 has actually gone up, although the sale of livestock and animal products has gone down (see graphic).

He believes that output is increasing – even though the number of farmers is shrinking – because farming is becoming more intense, through better techniques, greenhouses, investment in irrigation and so on.

“They have to produce more to earn the same amount of money,” he explained.

There are two things which he believes could be tackled: creating ways to get products to market in a way which was fairer for farmers who currently get a fraction of what consumers pay, and forming cooperatives to overcome the poor economies of scale that come from having small farms: three-quarters of farmers have less than a hectare.

IN FIGURES:

• Production in 2015 was up 2.1 per cent to €134 million

• 98.6 per cent of farmers are sole owners

• Subsidies in 2015 were €19.1 million, down 8.5 per cent

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