The Nationalist Party is vowing to help farmers become owners of the land they till, or help them lease it at affordable rates, if elected to government.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, PN's spokesperson Peter Agius, agriculture spokesperson Edwin Vassallo and electoral candidate Rebecca Cilia said that a PN government would step in to guarantee loans without interest to all farmers who buy their fields from private owners.

The party's pledge 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 farmers are threatened with removal every week.

It is believed the private owners want their land back either to develop it or to rent it in parts for leisure. In some cases, the owners are insisting they want to lease out the land at market value.

PN is promising to fork out up to 70 per cent of the rent for farmers who lease land from private owners. Agius said farmers are being asked to pay rents they cannot afford, forcing them out of their fields and out of business.

Agius said the agricultural industry is in crisis.

"Our country is risking running out of land to produce enough food for everyone," Agius said.

"If we do not act soon, we will face a food shortage."

The party did not want to take away the rights of private owners, but will do its utmost to "protect agricultural land as a source of biodiversity and food for Maltese families."

"A PN government will regularise rent prices to make sure farmers pay a fair rent to the landowners," Agius said.

The proposed schemes will be completely voluntary and will work in conjunction with other EU subsidies and measures.

The party would also create an administrative board that would have the power to rule over state rent cases more quickly and effectively.

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