‘Pitkalija’ to be managed by new Government agency – emphasis on quality products

The long-promised reform of the farmers’ wholesale vegetable market, il-Pitkalija, in Ta’ Qali has entered another phase. Along with the fish market (Pixkerija), the Pitkalija will now also be managed by a new Government agency which will focus on quality food products.

The operations of the Pitkalija and Pixkerija will now fall under the Food Agency which was set up as part of the reform in this industry. The Acting CEO of the Food Agency,  Emanuel Schembri said that the main aim of the Agency is to raise the level of the presentation of local productions including fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.

“We will ensure that there is a quality product with standards. There will be an element of processing.  Attractive packaging will compete with the best products on the shelves.  We also aim to export them to supermarkets abroad as well.”

The Permanent Secretary within the Ministry for Agriculture, Sharlo Camilleri said that with this Agency, the Government will have full control over what is happening at the Pitkalija. Mr Camilleri said that every product will be registered on an electronic system while every box will be traced through a barcode so that the farmer will know what has happened to his product.

“We will have more control over the price, and in the future we will work to stabilise the prices by introducing an electronic system for the standardisation of the product, so that the products on the market will be uniform.”

Asked about the private wholesalers at the Pitkalija, Mr Camilleri said they no longer operate there. He explained the Agency issued a call for what it described as ‘agents’. He said that through this call, seven agents were recruited.

“The Agency today is operating the entire system of selling produce and all the transactions where money is concerned. A central cash office will also be opened shortly where payments will be collected and the Agency will pay farmers directly and immediately.”

The Minister for Agriculture, Anton Refalo said that the setting up of the Agency and the reform of the Pitkalija are entirely in keeping with the Government’s vision for the food industry.

“You have the importance of the food and the food chain and, on the other hand, the reforms we have implemented which are important for transparency and good governance, but more significantly, the farmers will receive what they truly deserve.”

Minister Refalo said that the Agency should serve to promote more sustainable agriculture.