Farmers and livestock breeders are increasingly responding to challenges offered by the EU Single Market, increasing regulatory burdens, and changing weather patterns, by modernising their holdings. The Rural Development Programme, in short RDP, funded through the EU's Common Agricultural policy is a usefull tool through which policy makers at EU and national level assist farmers and livestock breeders to make such investments.
The Rural Development Programme for Malta (2014-2020) seeks to adress such challenges as well as local economic constraints faced by the agricultural community, such as limited attractiveness for young farmers, irregularity of income and the lack of capital to invest in modern machinery and equipment. With a budget of €134 million it seeks to assist the local agricultural sector in particular by funding priorities such as include job creation, growth, sustainability, modernisation, innovation and quality.
The main priorities for the funding budget include:
- job creation
- innovation and
EU Funds for Agriculture are allocated as follows:
- Direct payments under the first pillar of the CAPat €37 million (a) including voluntary coupled support payments for dairy, beef, sheep and tomato production; (b) greening scheme for large arable holdings; (c) a flat-rate simplified system for small farmers at a maximum of €1,250 each to reduce administrative burdens and ease controls; and (d) a 25% aid supplement for young farmers for five (5) years, and
- The Rural Development Programme for Malta 2014-2020 which aims at creating a more environmentally-friendly farming in terms of improving biodiversity, water and soil, increase resource efficiency and reduce the effect of climate change whilst improving competitiveness of the agricultural sector by allocating funds for investments in physical assets, collaboration, farm development, as well as, payments to areas encountering natural constraints.
Atriga Consult assists various rural operators in tapping these funds, namely through the following measures:
Measure 4.1 – Support for investments in agricultural holdings
This measure is intended to support active farmers and livestock breeders with a view to sustain investment in cost-effective and environmentally efficient systems and equipment in relation to:
- soil management
- water capture and use
- renewable energy
- waste management
- improved efficiency of fertiliser
- pesticide use and control
- improved productivity that does not cause environmental damage
Project proposals through Measure 4.1 are expected to contribute to one or more of the cross-cutting objectives, namely:
- Environment- investments in physical assets will result in reduced ground water consumption, thus reducing the pressure on Malta’s limited water resources;
- Climate- investments in physical assets will result in reduced energy consumption and increased renewable energy generation, thus minimising emissions from the use of fossil fuels; and
- Innovation- investments will encourage farmers to look at best practice in other Member States, and to innovate in terms of exploring new and more resilient farming systems and practices.
Measure 4.4 – Support for non-productive investments linked to the achievement of agri-environment-climate objectives
This measure is intended to support non-productive investments which do not generate a significant return, income, or revenue, or increase significantly the value of the beneficiary’s holding, but have a positive environmental impact, including :
- restoration of landscape features such as traditional boundaries, wetlands, hedges and dry-stone walls;
- creating and/or restoring a habitat or landscape element, such as restoring species-rich habitats;
- capital investment and works that complement commitments taken under the agri-environment-climate schemes (e.g. the preparation and implementation of management plans, planting of trees and removal of invasive/alien species, the establishment, repair and restoration of field boundaries such as terraced rubble walls, field vegetation hedges and borders);
- investment in landscape management, the enhancement of the public amenity value of sites of ecological importance and the restoration of rural landscape features (e.g. giren) may also be supported under this measure, as long as these are intended to serve an environmental and/or climate action purpose, e.g. to create and/or restore habitats for biodiversity by providing feeding/resting/nesting space for species.
Project proposals through Measure 4.4 are expected to contribute to one or more of the following cross-cutting objectives, namely:
- Environment- investments in non-productive investments on farms and agricultural land serve as a means for sustainable land management and stewardship, also counter-acting some of the negative impacts of farming;
- Climate- investments in non-productive investments are aimed to contribute towards the achievement of agri-environment-climate objectives in the RDP 2014-2020;
- Biodiversity- Restoring and preserving biodiversity, including in Natura 2000 areas and HNV farming and the state of European landscapes; and
- Soil management and erosion- improve soil management and reduce erosion.
Measure 6.1 – Business Start-up Aid for Young Farmers
This start-up scheme, corroborated by Measure 6.1, is intended to finance innovative projects supported by a business plan which are brought forward by young farmers who inspire to become head of the holding on their farm. Pertinent EU funds are made available to facilitate the entry of young farmers in the agricultural sector, as well as, assisting the latter to overcome barriers relating to capital costs, land ownership, market access and resistance from older farmers who are not open to new ideas, innovation in production and marketing, or investment in new processes.
Atriga Consult assists applicants availing themselves of this particular Measure by:
- carrying out pertinent research on the innovation proposed by the young farmer
- drafting the business plan in line with the requirements set by the Managing Authority
- completing the application form for funding, and
- providing project management services when the project is approved for funding
This comprehensive service is being provided bya team of agribusiness experts who can offer peace of mind to any young farmer who aspires to secure start-up aid to support his/her innovative project in this line of activity.