Investment in an innovative agricultural project for farmers and herdsmen in Gozo
Around ¬1.2 million is being invested to develop the Government Experimental Farm in Xewkija to a Centre for Innovation in Rural Sciences and Environmental Management. This project is being led by the Ministry for Gozo with the collaboration of the University of Malta to promote good agricultural practices respecting more the health and the environment while encouraging the introduction of new agricultural systems in Gozo. This will also help in the improvement of facilities and services given to farmers in Gozo.
During a site visit, the Hon. Giovanna Debono, Minister for Gozo followed the developments done in the last months. Works included extensive restoration and maintenance of the property, amongst which offices and other spaces for workers, pens for animals, an aviary for birds and necessary space for the breeding of bees. Works on three water reservoirs has increased water storage capacity by 3000m³ which will result in an added 3 million litres of rain water to be used. The hands-on-farming section was also re-structured in order to provide a better service for primary students visiting this site. This section will provide a more welcoming environment for primary students with more teaching resources on the environment to be used during the hands-on practical sessions. These educational hands-on sessions will include activities such as planting of trees and observing animals and birds from a close proximity.
Another important development was the building of 6 new greenhouses. These new greenhouses not only replaced the old ones but also extended the area for the study on soil and agricultural products. A computerised fertigation and watering system were installed in greenhouses and fields in this centre so as to help produce more accurate data and guidance for further research.
In the meantime, research is already being conducted on the Maltese black hen, and analysis of various summer fruits and plants used for animal fodder has commenced. A collection of hundreds of fig trees of different Mediterranean varieties has been procured and is now at this Centre to be used in a research project being conducted on these trees. Other studies will be focusing on the better use of water for agricultural purposes. In addition, more than 500 trees and shrubs were planted as part of a project promoting the ecological restoration in South East of Sicily and Gozo.
Minister Giovanna Debono explained how this project of the Centre for Innovation in Rural Sciences and Environmental Management is directly related with the ecoGozo Action Plan 2010-2012 which aims for a sustainable development in various socio-economic sectors. The Minister stressed the importance of the agricultural sector both for its economic contribution as well as for the preservation of the Gozitan rural environment. This project is another proof of the work being done by the Ministry for Gozo to enhance and strengthen the economic sector in Gozo, stated Minister Giovanna Debono.