During the eighth council meeting of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) at the Central Bank of Malta, one of its important social partners, the focus turned to the priority topic of ensuring the security of the country’s food supply. The meeting, attended by the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal Rights and key social partners, delved into discussions surrounding reforms and developments in the food supply chain.
Expressing gratitude to the dedicated efforts of all social partners, the Minister responsible for Agriculture, Hon. Anton Refalo, highlighted their invaluable contribution and collective support in propelling the food sector towards new horizons. Recognising the unique importance of food security, Minister Refalo emphasised the need for comprehensive reforms that would create a favourable environment, guarantee a secure food supply, and promote sustainability for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Ministry’s spokeswoman and Ambassador, Ms. Sonya Sammut, gave a detailed presentation to the social partners. The presentation covered the policy and legal framework concerning food policy developments, with a specific focus on security, food sustainability, and the national plan for organic food. Moreover, it shed light on the drafting of an Act on Agriculture, an encompassing law that aims to provide clarity on competencies and to simplify the sector’s regulations.
The meeting witnessed support for the proposed reform from the social partners, who provided valuable insights to enhance its effectiveness. The worrying issue of our nation’s heavy reliance on imported food, accounting for a staggering 85%, was brought to the forefront. The social partners also highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a stark reminder of our vulnerability to global supply chain disruptions, underscoring the urgency for food sector reform. To tackle this challenge, social partners recommended incentives to encourage young individuals to enter the industry. A notable recommendation was the implementation of a scheme facilitating their entry into the sector while granting access to energy-efficient agricultural machinery. By encouraging youth participation and improving overall efficiency through innovation and technology, the reform aims to strengthen local production, reduce dependence on imports, and establish a more resilient and sustainable food system that may be supported by educated consumer choices.
The MCESD remains committed to working alongside its social partners to prioritise discussions on matters crucial to the country’s overall development. The discussion also addressed crucial investments, including the much-needed reform of crop fields. For more information, the presentation can be accessed here.