MALTA FOOD AGENCY: Developing sustainable food value chains

What may be seen as a more traditional industry is in fact turning to be a highly technical one, with modernised production methods and supply chains. However, in Malta there is still a long way to go and there are a number of challenges which need to be addressed.

The Malta Food Agency has been established precisely for this reason: to overcome these challenges. The agency will regulate established markets, including farming and fishing while administering operations of the Pitkalija, Pixkerija and the cutting and deboning plant at the Abattoir.

The agency will be responsible for the systems that regulate food businesses and will be at the forefront of greater collaboration and cooperation between various players in the value chain, both upstream and downstream. It will administer a centralised system that will allow for more transparency and traceability of the sale of local fresh produce and give a level playing field for all stakeholders involved in the market.

Administering a sustainable food value chain development approach will present great opportunities yet also daunting challenges. Therefore, one must identify the problems, promote innovative thinking for effective solutions, and seek broad-based partnerships to implement actions that have an impact at scale.

The notion is not about simply developing long lists of often well-known constraints, but rather to take a holistic approach and implement what needs be done in order to take advantage of existent end-market opportunities.

Needless to say, that the fisheries and agriculture sectors are heavily regulated. In today’s health-conscious and evolving lifestyle, people expect to know absolutely everything about their food, including its origins and means of production. Digital innovation is a key contributor to the increase in these expectations, and by means of technology, one can reinvent the way these sectors do business. New ecosystems and ways of working are constantly being developed, resulting in more efficient business models and new delivery methods.

The Malta Food Agency will seek to implement and promote the use of emerging technology in agriculture. This will achieve better governance, sustainability, and increased efficiency. This shall result in financial gain to the stakeholders yet creating new opportunities such as exporting extra produce in a bid to reduce food waste.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food, and Animal Rights, Anton Refalo has been spearheading this much-needed reform, which is now at the stage of implementation. The intent is to look into ‘market failures’ in order to improve the low volume of production and facilitate improving the market.

This value-added sets in motion growth that relate to economic, social, and environmental sustainability, and directly impacts the economy at large.

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