Dry first two months of the year – farmers appeal for assistance to store water

Farmers have experienced another dry winter, and in fact this has meant extra expenses for them to irrigate their crops. A family of farmers spoke with TVM about the need to facilitate the process for farmers to apply for reservoirs.

Only 7.4 mm of rain has been measured this month, which means 49.5 mm less than the average which is 56.9 mm. We spoke to the Agius family at their fields in Zebbug where we asked Paul Agius what it means for farmers to once again have a winter with very little rainfall.

“We started off with a little bit of rain but then as we entered the new year the rain stopped. This is a great problem for us farmers, especially for onions and other crops which you sow and need to irrigate constantly because otherwise they do not yield any harvest… we have to bring a pump and water them by hand or else lay down irrigation pipes, because unless you irrigate you might as well not sow anything in the first place.”

It is well-known among farmers that the best time for rainfall is up to mid-March. “For us, winter lasts until the middle of March, because from then on, you harvest wheat and hay, after that it is all ruined for use as feed. Once you begin harvesting it cannot be used for bales and so on.”

Paul’s brother, Leli, told us that when there is a dry winter like this, famers have to incur more expenses to irrigate their fields.

“These days we need much larger reservoirs than before. Unfortunately we know that in Malta, a lot definitely needs to be done for water catchment to prevent rainwater from being wasted and if only there was a bit more help from the Government or the entities responsible to improve this process or make it easier for farmers to store water.”

This year’s weather will definitely not reflect the Maltese saying, ta’ Frar fawwar jimla’ l-bjar! (February’s rainfall makes the wells overflow)