Government must honour promises made with pitkala
“Several proposals of Maltese and Gozitan farmers have been taken on board in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, including efficient financing and cutting red tape. This reform will thus benefit both farmers and consumers. I am pledging to continue serving as the voice of the agricultural sector at the European Parliament.” MEP Francis Zammit Dimech made these remarks after visiting the Pitkali Market Centre in Ta’ Qali.
Speaking on the situation at the Pitkalija, Zammit Dimech remarked that the Government must honour its promises and invest appropriately in infrastructure at the Pitkali Market Centre. He remarked that the pitkala had complained on the working conditions. For example, the current tent had deteriorated in several areas leading to water entering the centre, causing damage to the produce and creating risks as at times water ended up over electricity meters. Pitkala also said that there was no adequate flow of rainwater that ends up in the centre, due to the worn-out tent that the government had promised to upgrade. During the visit, pitkala remarked that they are experiencing a scenario where buyers have less spending power, and that this was leaving an impact on the value of the local product.
Pitkala also shared with Zammit Dimech their desire to be able to transfer their business and goodwill to other persons interested to enter this economic segment, without being subjected to the present limitations that have been imposed on them. Zammit Dimech thanked the pitkala for welcoming him and for sharing with him their challenges in an open and frank manner. Zammit Dimech also thanked Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Clint Camilleri for facilitating the visit.
Zammit Dimech said he was giving due attention to agriculture even if he and no other Maltese MEP was a member of the Committee on Agriculture. In fact, even if Zammit Dimech has spent barely two years at the European Parliament, in March 2018 he had also held a consultation process with farmers and tabled their proposals in the report of the Committee on Agriculture on the future of food and farming, which laid proposals for the reform of the CAP.
In his proposals, Zammit Dimech had proposed that special consideration should be granted to farmers who face extra challenges due to specific constraints linked to less favoured areas such as islands and outermost regions to maintain farming activity in such areas. Farmers had also expressed disappointment with respect to delay for payments from Government when they qualify for European funds. In this regard, Zammit Dimech had proposed that the new CAP must make financing more expedited, fairer and more efficient. Due to the fact that young and first generation farmers were facing difficulties to have access to terrain, Zammit Dimech proposed support initiatives to help young farmers have access to terrain including succession planning. Zammit Dimech, a former Minister for the Environment, had also spoken on the need to protect arable land from development. In his proposals, he had raised the need for farmers to obtain fair and equitable compensation for their produce, and for a level playing field for all farmers including small family farmers. Zammit Dimech had emphasised that strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain was crucial to ensure affordable prices for citizens and consumers, and to promote a healthy diet.
Zammit Dimech said that the EPP Group, of which the Partit Nazzjonalista delegation forms part of, had secured a CAP reform, which embraces several of these proposals. The major changes adopted shift the management of CAP subsidies from Brussels to the national governments and reducing administrative burdens for farmers and governments. The reform also seeks better management of farm production to stabilise supplies and prices for the benefit of shoppers. The reform moreover gives due importance to improving farming’s impact on the environment.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 217 Members from 28 Member States