During the meeting of European Agriculture Ministers in Finland, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Clint Camilleri insisted on the importance of sustaining a high level quality of rubble walls in our country in order to better control soil erosion.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that for this purpose financial incentives were and will continue being included in the plans financed by the Common Agricultural Policy. He continued that financial incentives were always included in the Rural Development Plan in order to support the retention and maintenance of rubble walls. He stated that since Malta joined the European Union, incentives for soil conservation have been integrated into the Rural Development Plan for the Maltese Islands. He also explained that these include the promotion of environmentally friendly production methods in order to reduce soil degradation and decreasing the loss of rural habitat by increasing environmental awareness and more responsibility among farmers.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that even though this is being done, unfortunately soil erosion in the Maltese Islands has been identified as the predominant process of desertification and land degradation which impacts the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Therefore, various measures aimed at soil conservation have been introduced.

The three biggest threats to soil are erosion, compaction and loss of soil organic matter. Clint Camilleri explained that about 435 farmers covering 700 hectares of land are currently implementing soil management plans as part of their agri-environment commitments. One of these measures includes leaving the land fallow in order to create a better balance in soil nutrients, restoring the soil biota and breaking pest and disease cycles.

Parliamentary Secretary Camilleri called for closer consultation with farmers in order to identify new measures and methods for the benefit of biodiversity and the climate. He concluded by saying that the intention of Malta has always been to build on the experience and provide support to incentivize farmers and soil conservation measures which will help in carbon sequestration. He also stated that the Common Agricultural Policy should allow Member States to design and implement measures according to their special needs and conditions, in order to achieve the government and country’s goals.

At the invitation of the Finnish Minister who currently occupies the post of President of the Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, Parliamentary Secretary Camilleri also visited cattle farms in Finland and forests used for the sustainable production of timber. He noted how in Finland, the success of the dairy industry is based on the fact that the farmers themselves are the owners of companies that process the milk in this country.

Source: Government of Malta