PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FOOD AND ANIMAL RIGHTS Minister Anton Refalo and Belgian Minister David Clarinval visit BelOrta, a fruit and vegetables cooperative in Belgium

In the light of the European Agricultural Council held earlier this week, Maltese Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights Anton Refalo, alongside Belgian Minister for Agriculture David Clarinval, visited fruit and vegetables cooperative BelOrta.

The purpose of this visit was to share ideas on sustainable cultivation, marketing, and innovative packaging solutions, amongst others. BelOrta is a cooperative of over 1,000 Belgian farmers producing a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Together, they grow more than 500,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables each year with 170 different products, both conventional and organic.

The ministers and the BelOrta delegation discussed the cooperative business, the social role of cooperatives and how producers were able to meet the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Anton Refalo said that he is confident in Maltese and Gozitan farmers, who have always been willing to work and cooperate so that this important sector continues to grow and strengthen with the continuous support of the Maltese government.

Minister Refalo explained that a reform process is currently underway at the Pitkalija in Malta. This long-needed reform is being carried out in order to modernise operations, improve infrastructure and provide the farmer with a suitable place to sell their product. This reform will be the basis for improving the quality of local fruit and vegetables, increasing transparency, as well as product traceability. This is for the benefit of the agricultural sector as well as for the consumers, Minister Refalo said.

Such visits help to find various solutions for the advantage of the agricultural community in Malta.