Agriculture organisations call on Government to find an immediate solution regarding the leasing of agricultural land

Photo by Tessa Mercieca (MaYA Foundation)

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August, 2021 at 12:05 pm by Andre Camilleri

Agriculture organisations are calling for an immediate solution to the unprecedented threat faced by farmers working on privately owned land. This threat comes after latest developments saw the Agricultural Leases Board evicting farmers from the land which they manage. The decision is a result of a Constitutional Court case in November 2020 which deemed that the present Law was protecting the farmer yet going against the Constitution, since it denies fundamental rights to the landowners.

That is why 18 organisations are reiterating that this is a very dangerous situation that can lead to the exodus of farmers; resulting in a huge social and environmental negative impact. As a consequence, dozens of farmers will lose their livelihood, while the land they manage will fall in the hands of those who have neither the intention nor knowledge on how to farm it, or utilised for purposes that are not necessarily agricultural.

In the meantime, the strategy launched by the Government for the country to recover from the pandemic, mentions how we need to improve food security, while protecting and strengthening our country’s food production. It also points out that farmers should be assisted to strengthen their position as land managers.

It is evident that in some cases, the rent money paid for private land is ridiculous, and therefore it would be wise to revise such prices so that landowners would be more justly compensated. However, such a price must never be based on the land’s market value. Agricultural land has social and environmental purposes, and therefore, its value cannot be determined only by the lands’ commercial prices. The primary scope of agricultural land is food production that is accessible and affordable to everyone. Therefore, the producers’ profit margins can never afford high rents as these costs would not be economically feasible.

That is why agricultural organisations are calling on the Government to intervene urgently to find a solution that would make sense for all. The agricultural sector can serve as an economic pillar, however for this to happen decisions need to be made so that farmers can have all the necessary resources to thrive. 

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