Gozo may be the greener island, but the number of full-time farmers and fishermen is nevertheless declining, with few young people taking up those professions.
The latest available figures, tabled in Parliament by Employment Minister Owen Bonnici, show that there are 350 full-time farmers and fishermen living in Gozo. This represents just over 1% of the island’s population, estimated to be 33,388 at the start of 2019.
The number has been slowly, but steadily declining over the years: the figures, broken down by age, suggest that this is mainly due to older farmers and fishermen retiring. There had been 366 people working as full-time farmers or fishermen in March 2013, the earliest month included in the figures.
And the vast majority are aged 40 and up: 135 are aged 40-54, while a further 130 were even older. Only 12 people aged under 25 worked as farmers or fishermen full-time, with a further 73 aged 25-39.
The highest proportion of farmers or fishermen, by a considerable margin, can be found in Gozo’s smallest locality by population, Għasri. 2.6% of its residents work full-time in agriculture or fisheries, followed by Kerċem (1.6%) and Sannat (1.5%). Fontana is at the other end of the scale, with just 2 full-time farmers or fishermen, representing a little over 0.2% of its 922 inhabitants.
Despite the small number of people actively involved, Gozo nevertheless punches above its weight when it comes to agriculture and fisheries. A recent publication by the National Statistics Office shows that Gozo accounts for 17.5% of Malta’s economic activities in agriculture and fisheries.