Cane is a young farmer and an environmentalist at heart, who passionately works on his farm to apply sustainable and ethical farming practices. Together with his partner, Cassandra, he works on the Biome Munch project in Burmarrad.
At Biome Munch it is all about looking at food in a holistic way. Their vision is to promote a Mediterranean diet and make eating local and nutritious food simple, affordable, and accessible to people in Malta.
After working in a laboratory at the University of Malta for several years, Cane decided to leave his stable job to become a full-time farmer. Through this process, Cane learnt how much social stigma is linked to farming and how little encouragement young people receive to get into the agricultural sector. Despite this hurdle, Cane is optimistic that he will make ends meet and succeed in his endeavour. The young couple is using their combined knowledge in design and engineering, farming and nutrition, as well as business and marketing, to ensure Biome Munch is a success.
Since the beginning of the Biome Munch project, which started off as a community-supported agriculture setup in Burmarrad, Cane has shown true resilience and strives to work hard even when faced with obstacles. Cane’s family farmland was compromised in recent years due to a proposed roundabout on the main road which would have needlessly eaten away at agricultural land. The road would have also damaged a 500-year-old reservoir that has been supplying over twenty tumoli of land with water for centuries. Thanks to a campaign led by farmers in the area with the support of environmental NGOs, the roundabout proposal has been shelved.
Losing land to infrastructure projects is only one of the constant struggles that farmers are facing. According to Cane, the lack of adequate targeted funds in farming is another major challenge: “We do not have enough support in the way we need and instead get support in the wrong areas. Farmers receive funds to buy tractors while the majority actually needs help with completely different things.” Cane sees business incentives as one solution. It could be an option for businesses to receive incentives if they decide to support local farmers. To give an example, he explains that it would be helpful if funds were given to companies which employed local farmers to grow fruit and vegetables for them. This would create a “sustainable workforce”, and Cane adds, “From my own experience I can tell that this system can be beneficial. For example, I am currently working together with Xara Lodge as a farmer and supporting them to grow vegetables directly for their catering establishments and the local industry. Since they have the capital funds to buy land and support the local farming industry, big companies can help solve issues of low income in farming.”
Another challenge that Cane is particularly vocal about is land access: “It’s impossible to access land in Malta. If your family does not already own land, you have no chance since land is so expensive.” This would make it impossible for young people and those interested in farming to start up. “Land is not affordable and you won’t receive a loan from the bank if you want to use it for agricultural reasons,” he explains. This system needs to change and support is needed, especially to make it possible for young people to enter the agricultural business.
Cane and Cassandra still firmly believe that a career in agriculture is not only a viable option but also a meaningful one, as it empowers farmers to feel like they are truly stewards of the land.
Find out more about their project by visiting https://biome-munch.com/.