The government will be stepping in to help farmers threatened with eviction from privately owned land.

In a statement late on Tuesday, the Agriculture Ministry said it will be providing farmers with technical and legal support to alleviate the financial burden of court action. 

The ministry is also willing to deposit the rent in court on their behalf in cases where landlords have not accepted the annual rent. 

The announcement comes two days after Times of Malta published comments by farmers who are being evicted from land they have tilled for decades.

According to Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi, some three to four farmers are threatened with removal every week.

On Tuesday, the PN also pledged to help farmers become owners of the land they till, or help them lease it at affordable rates, if elected to government.

Hours after the PN's press conference, the government said it believed the agricultural sector was "essential" for the country.

"The government has a duty to support the agriculture sector through policies that guarantee the continuity of farming and ensuring an adequate level of income for farmers," the ministry said.

It added that the Agriculture Leases Act ensured that agricultural land was farmed, and not used for non-agricultural, recreational activities.

The ministry will therefore be providing farmers with technical and legal support through its advisory services unit, known as AgriConnect.

Farmers who are registered with the Agriculture Directorate and who have been threatened with eviction, given notice of eviction, or taken to court by the landlord, can benefit from this assistance.

Requests for support can be made on 2180 4981/2/4, via agriconnect.mafa@gov.mt, or in person at AgriConnect's offices in Mellieħa, Qormi, Żabbar or Victoria.

Meanwhile, farmers facing ongoing court cases, those notified of a court case, or those whose landlord has not accepted the annual rent, will be provided with legal assistance in court.

The ministry said it will also assist in depositing the rent in court on their behalf.

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