Thanks to around 90 farmers who breed cows, the Maltese are guaranteed fresh milk every day. However, this sector made up of around 6,300 cows which together produce around 41 million litres of milk every year, is facing challenges as farmers try to cut down on their expenses with the help of the Department of Rural Development.
A pilot project which was carried out last year by this Department showed that dairy farmers can save up to €50,000 each, every year.
Director Noel Azzopardi explained that the study made a number of recommendations to help farmers improve their operations at their farms, including the quality of the feed and water which they give to their cattle.
“We also made suggestions where disinfectants and the management of farm hygiene is concerned, the use of medicines and the management of the herds themselves from the time they are calves until they grow into adults and are ready to breed.”
Eight dairy farmers took part in the project including David Galea who is one of the 90 farmers who produces milk in Malta.
“If we save 50ċ on very cow, so to speak, we have already made a step forward. It will still produce the same amount of milk.”
The project was inspired by the challenges which are facing the dairy sector.
“The price of feed is what it is. The price of milk, the income in other words, is what it is and therefore in order to make money one needs to balance these things.”
For Vince Parnis from the Koperattiva Produtturi tal-Ħalib, these challenges are even discouraging young people from continuing to work on farms.
“There are a lot of costs, and you always. need to improve and modernise your machinery and at the same time your children don’t now whether they should keep working in this sector or branch out into another line of work.”
During a seminar for dairy farmers, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Clint Camilleri, said that the pilot project will be extended to farmers who produce milk from sheep and goats as well as to the pig farm sector. Clint Camilleri said that this sector will continue to benefit from European funds, which over a period of 7 years have already come up to €14 million.