The Buskett gardens this year did not feature agricultural products, nor the animal herds exhibition as farmers and herdsmen celebrated the Imnarja feast at their fields and farms instead of visiting the gardens that surround the Verdala Palace. A Television Malta crew this morning spent some hours with two farmers – one on the edge of retiring and his son who has embarked on his father’s footsteps.
Nardu and his son Charles consider the 29th June as a celebration of their yearly yield in the fields, although this year, instead of Buskett, the celebration was marked in their fields in the limits of Siġġiewi.
Nardu stated that the field is currently filled with season crops, which he would have exhibited at Buskett. “We have broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, pumpkin and onions, lettuce and we have the remaining lot of strawberries as the season is closing”.
Although Nardu’s field is surrounded by a picturesque scenery, he admits that his eyes are always focused on the crops that cover the field. “I do not even see the sun moving overhead. You said there is Fifla….I think I have not seen it for some two months because I do not look that way”.
Nardu stated that the coronavirus badly affected farmers as many vegetables they cultivated remained unsold due to a decreased demand. He expressed the hope that the re-opening of the airport on Wednesday will assist the situation to be better.
“We are expecting the planes to land, as we farmers wait for early rainfall…not at this moment, God forbids. But airplanes are similar to rain for farmers….passengers will buy products, from watermelons to peaches”.
The farmer told Television Malta that interest in farming is diminishing and many surrounding fields no longer provide a livelihood for many families, contrary to previous times. Despite the negative consequences, Nardu says that Covid-19 gave him a great gift.
“I enjoyed the company of my son after the school closed…he accompanies me from morning till evening. He has acquainted himself with even the disease in crops and directs me in the work to be done”.
Charles is still 13 years old, however the farming trade is in his blood. “I enjoy it a lot……learnt everything, from crops to others. Now I even recognise disease in crops affected by either the sun or by rats”.
The youth stated that he chose agribusiness in his studies to develop his skills in the sector. While admitting that he lacks encouragement from school colleagues to continue with the trade, he has a vision on how to develop what his father left for him.
“I considered agritourism…..bringing over tourists and displaying my products and even some animals”.
While Nardu and Charles spent the day among their crops, Buskett gardens remained empty of animals and agricultural products….their void was filled with cars of people who today preferred the cool air at Buskett. The same can be said at downhill Saqajja which lacked the horses and ponies traditional races.