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In the Media

The Times
8th April, 2008

Gozo agro-environmental project launched

Heritage Malta and the Gaia Foundation have signed an agreement for the implementation of an agro-environment and landscaping plan at the Ġgantija Temples in Xagħra Gozo.

Ġgantija which now combines cultural and agricultural heritage will be used as a base for a wider agro-environment project which involves the promotion of an industry for olives, almonds, pomegranate and the use of existing carob trees in the island of Gozo. An annual festival will take place at Ġgantija in autumn.

“The project will enhance the Gozitan agricultural landscape, and make the island a more attractive tourist destination as well as address climate change and carbon emissions through the planting of more trees. It will also help to counter the problem of a sector under pressure from economic and climatic factors as well as the challenge to a growing number of part time farmers who cannot maintain the old rhythm and system of year-round production,” the two organisations said in a joint statement.

The almond is one of the most resilient and drought-resistant fruit trees found on the Maltese Islands. Pomegranates, too, are one of the least demanding fruit trees. No irrigation or pest control is needed except for annual pruning. Once established these groves would be a good source of income for farmers, whilst simultaneously creating a multiplier effect in the local economy for the operators of olive presses, almond grinders, packers and exporters.

With the exception of Spain, Europe looks towards California for the bulk of its source of almonds owing to insufficient production in the Mediterranean. Malta could step in and start exporting almonds to the North. Marzipan, made from almonds is sold at a premium throughout Europe.

Picture: Heritage Malta and Gaia Foundation officials plant trees to celebrate the launch of the agro-environmental project in Gozo.

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