The Malta Independent 23 February 2024, Friday
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Funds to assist farmers in implementing Integrated Pest Management on their holdings

Tuesday, 5 December 2023, 12:43 Last update: about 4 months ago

Local farmers are once again invited to apply for and benefit from funding opportunities available under the new CAP Strategic Plan for Malta covering the 2023-2027 period, under schemes which are beneficial for the climate and environment, aptly named "Eco-Schemes".

One of these schemes concerns Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management. Local farmers are being assisted in implementing such practices through EU funding, and may benefit from a support rate of €224.80 per tumolo per year. In order to be eligible, farmers must have a minimum of 0.3 hectares (Ha) of eligible agricultural land where parcels must be of a minimum of 0.04 Ha in size. This area is to be committed under the scheme for which beneficiaries must provide an Integrated Pest Management Plan (IPMP) issued by a recognised farm advisory service which is the AgriConnect. The closing date for submitting requests for financial assistance under this scheme is the 15th December 2023, and this is to be done at the Agriculture and Rural Payments Agency's (ARPA) Front Office situated in Pitkali Markets, Ta' Qali or Xewkija, Gozo. AgriConnect offers assistance and technical advice to farmers  helping them to identify and tackle any obstacles and technical problems that they encounter in their operations.

Speaking about the benefits of the scheme, a local farmer who participated in the programme over the past years, explained how by implementing IPM methods to his land, such as mulching and importing controlled and approved seeds, he has managed to increase yield from his crops while using less pesticides. This in turn resulted in more genuine, pesticide free products while lowering production costs since he purchased less pesticides. The IPM subsidy also helped to relieve the costs of implementing the pest management strategies.

IPM programmes use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. Together with available pest control methods, this data is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to humans, animals, and the environment. The general principles of integrated pest management intend to prevent and/or possibly suppress harmful organisms through options other than the use of pesticides, promoting practices such as:

-          Crop rotation;
-          Use of adequate cultivation techniques;
-          Use of pest-resistant and verified seeds;
-          Managing sowing, planting, or harvesting dates;
-          Water/irrigation management;
-          Soil and nutrient management (including mulching, zero/low tillage, fertiliser management) and practices to enhance the build-up of naturally existing predator populations, among others.

In June 2022, the European Commission adopted proposals for a new Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products, which includes the new Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR), aiming to be the first step towards an effective and coherent pesticide reduction policy across the European Union (EU). The regulation sets out EU-wide targets to reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030, in line with the EU's Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

Eco-Schemes are an essential component under direct payments during the 2023-2027 programming period. Such schemes take the form of annual or multi-annual commitments involving a wide range of agricultural practices to be undertaken by farmers through the incentive of accessing favourable financial support which is essential for the sustainability of the local farming sector. These schemes play an important role in enhancing the delivery of environmental, climate and animal welfare targets that contribute to the achievement of goals established under EU-wide policies from the European Green Deal to the the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

For more information regarding these schemes, kindly contact the Agriculture and Rural Payments Agency (ARPA) via telephone on 22 926 148 or via email sent to [email protected]. One may also refer to the simplified guidelines for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) found on AgriConnect's website www.agriconnect.gov.mt


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