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Malta - Drought aid for fruit, veg farmers

Around 5,000 farmers in Malta will be given €900,000 in compensation for the winter drought which increased irrigation and pesticide costs and risked summer fruit production.
Speaking at a press conference, parliamentary secretary for agriculture Roderick Galdes explained that the past winter had been characterized by an unusual drought, with this year being termed one of the worst in terms or rainfall and high temperatures.
“The government has allotted an emergency fund for the damages suffered by farmers who grow fruits and vegetables,” Galdes said, adding that the government would also be applying for EU funds to make up for the funds allotted to the sector.
Galdes said that farmers would not have to apply for the funds, but that they would receive them just as they do their other yearly entitlements.
Farmer, Benny Camilleri, whose field the press conference was held in, explained that the drought had ultimately meant that farmers had to rely on irrigation, ramping up costs for all the operations.
Camilleri said that although it was difficult to quantify the extra spending caused by the drought, it was also important to note that the effects of the dry winter would continue to be felt for a number of years.
“Fruit trees like peaches, and other fruits like strawberries would normally undergo a period of ‘rest’ during the winter months, to allow them to be revived and produce better fruits in the warmer months,”
Camilleri said, adding that it would also take the crops some time to recover fully.
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