In 2020, the National Statistics Office (NSO) conducted the Census of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal rights (MAFA). This data collection exercise provided a rich and a sought-after source of information about various aspects such as land utilisation, livestock rearing, animal housing and manure management, rural development aspects, labour resources, other gainful activities as well as the use of machinery and equipment by the various agricultural holdings.
The statistical data collected in the Census of Agriculture 2020 showed that, over the last decade, there was a decrease in almost all the relevant statistical variables. The number of agricultural holdings engaged in agricultural activities, total utilised agricultural area together with the livestock population in livestock units revealed a decrease in their totals. Nevertheless, an increase was recorded in the agricultural labour force that worked over 1,800 hours on an annual basis. Additionally, the ageing factor was another aspect that was brought to light by the census as it showed that 76.2 per cent of the workers were over 45 years of age.
01 Background information
… the number of agricultural holdings decreased by 16.2 per cent, from 12,268 in 2010 to 10,281 in 2020.
… utilised agricultural area (UAA) declined by 6.2 per cent, from 11,445 hectares in 2010 to 10,731 hectares in 2020.
… agricultural labour force declined by 26.7 per cent, from 18,212 persons in 2010 to 13,341 persons in 2020.
… the number of persons working more than 1,800 hours increased by 38.2 per cent, from 1,300 persons in 2010 to 1,797 persons in 2020.
… in terms of livestock units, the livestock population decreased by 23.6 per cent from 41,652 in 2010 to 31,825 in 2020.
02 Agricultural holdings
… 10,281 agricultural holdings were found in MALTA with the largest proportion, 2,479 holdings or 24.1 per cent resided in the Western district.
… 98.7 per cent of all the agricultural holdings were run by sole holders.
… Managers who were 44 years or younger made up 17.5 per cent of the total managers, and 0.5 per cent were under the age of 25 years.
… 53.1 per cent of the agricultural managers had another gainful activity not related to the same agricultural holding.
… 39.2 per cent of agricultural managers have been responsible for their agricultural holding between 10 and 30 years.
… 4,161 agricultural holdings or 40.5 per cent of all holdings, produced agricultural products exclusively for their own consumption.
… 7,118 agricultural holdings or 69.2 per cent managed a utilised agricultural area (UAA) of less than one hectare.
03 Utilised agricultural area
… the largest shares of UAA were found in the Western, Northern and Gozo and Comino districts with 3,252, 2,542 and 2,449 hectares respectively.
… 78.4 per cent of the total UAA, consisted of land parcels which were less than 0.5 hectares while 2.6 per cent of the agricultural holdings tilled more than two hectares.
… 49.6 per cent of the agricultural land was rented from the Government, while 27.9 per cent was owner-occupied and 22.5 per cent rented from private owners.
… arable land accounted for 72.5 per cent of the total UAA while kitchen gardens and permanent crops made up 18.6 per cent and 8.9 per cent of the remaining UAA.
… forage was predominant in the use of arable land with a total of 5,252 hectares or 67.5 per cent of the total UAA.
… vineyards accounted for 456 hectares or 47.9 per cent of the permanent crops.
… 3,891 hectares or 36.3 per cent of total UAA was irrigated, the largest portion being 1,391 hectares of kitchen gardens.
… cattle farms amounted to 241, with a cattle population of 14,447 heads, of which 41.5 per cent were dairy cows.
… there were 953 agricultural holdings rearing 16,177 sheep, of which 61.5 per cent were rearing less than 10 sheep each, while 2.7 per cent had more than 99 sheep.
… 502 agricultural holdings were engaged in the rearing of 5,764 goats, of which 72.9 per cent were rearing less than 10 goats each while 1.8 per cent had more than 99 goats.
… pig farms amounted to 93, with a total stock of 40,090 heads.
… 545,396 broilers and 338,516 laying hens were being raised by 111 and 475 holdings respectively.
… 7,326 breeding female rabbits were being reared by 478 agricultural holdings.
… there were 336 beekeepers and between them they were keeping a total of 3,625 beehives.
05 Agricultural labour force
… agricultural labour force amounted to 13,341 persons during the reference period with males accounting for 86.5 per cent of the total.
… 1,797 persons declared that they worked for 1,800 hours or more while 11,544 persons reported that they worked for less than 1,800 hours.
… during the reference period, persons aged between 55 and 64 worked an average of 902 hours, while those younger than 25 years old recorded an average of 775 hours.
… 8,670 full-time working days were provided by third parties through contractual work on agricultural holdings.
… 727 agricultural holdings were engaged in other gainful activity related to their agricultural activity.
… 46.3 per cent of the agricultural holdings were coaching someone else to continue their agricultural work following their retirement.
06 Machinery and equipment
… a total of 3,572 tractors with 54.5 per cent less than 35 horsepower were owned by the agricultural holdings.
… rotovators amounted to 15,976 in total.
… water pumps amounted to 12,314, of which 46.9 per cent were electric-powered.
… the amount of plant protection application equipment owned by the agricultural holdings was 7,675.