Gozo farmers encourged to change to organic methods
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The Malta Standards Authority, this morning convened a group of Gozitan farmers and growers to give them information about the benefits of organic farming.
The meeting was held at the Victoria Local Council and was addressed by the Parliamentary Secretary, Chris Said and the Chairman of MSA, Francis E. Farrugia. Both stressed that organic farming practices help to meet targets set by eco-Gozo as part of Vision 2015.
Gozo already has five farmers practicing organic farming and two processors of organic products. In Malta there are 15 farmers certified to process organic produce and together they work 22 hectares of land and grow 20 tonnes of organic products a year. This means that in Malta, the land used for the production of organic products has increased by approximately 33 percent over the last five years.
Certification issued by the Malta Standards Authority establishes that the organic products grown or processed by farmers comply with European regulations. The current products in the market place include all types of vegetables, fruits, spices, olive oil, syrup and sauces. The scheme of certification for organic farming was introduced into Malta in December 2004 and is based on regulation (EC) No 834.2007 of the Council of Ministers of the European Union. This Regulation specifies the methods to be used in the practice of organic farming.
Chris Said went on to explain the existing European funded schemes that encourage farmers and villagers who want to switch from traditional to organic farming methods. One of these schemes, involving a fund of 1.2 million euros, is used to help farmers switch to organic farming, other schemes, are designed to help farmers and processors of organic products become more competitive and invest in modern equipment. During the meeting, farmers were also briefed on the correct use of pesticides. The MSA informed the group that they make regular inspections to determine whether farmers are using pesticides at a higher level than the regulations specify.
During 2009 MSA carried out 576 inspections to 46 different growers. Up until May, 379 products were inspectioned from 29 farmers..
At the end of the meeting the Parliamentary Secretary, Chris Said, visited the Magro Brothers factory at the Xewkija Industrial Estate, where a certificate was presented to the company owner, John Magro, for the processing of organic farming products.