Maltese farmers across the islands are facing millions of euros in damages after last weekend’s intense gale force winds. But beyond the numbers, the reality of farmers who saw their hard work blown to the wind, and are left to pick up the pieces, cannot be forgotten.
A new video shows the real effect the storm had on one Maltese farmer whose crops have been wrecked by the storm’s fury.
Manuel Camilleri is a full-time farmer who grows crops like tomatoes, marrows, and strawberries.
In the video, which was filmed by Steve Zammit Lupi, host Malcolm Borg speaks to a local farmer who forlornly surveys his ruined greenhouses. The footage makes for hard viewing, as you see the farmer struggling to figure out how to proceed next as he walks over his ruined crops.
Manuel confessed he couldn’t bear to see the crops as the storm raged on
“We didn’t even come up here at first, it was so bad,” Manuel said. “Then I came up Sunday morning, I came up with the van, and I saw the fluttering, and I just went back down.”
“I didn’t even get out of the van, I couldn’t bear seeing it… I didn’t get out,” he continued. “And when I did look, I said, ‘that’s it’, and I left.”
“I returned in the evening, and the floor was coated in tomatoes,” he said. “Everything is lost. We will have to remove the structures from their foundations, and completely redo it from the beginning.”
When asked if he thought the plants would recover, he said definitely not – the crops were all “burnt”.
“The plant’s heart is burnt, and the stalks are broken”
“When you come and see everything on the floor, you’re just left speechless,” he said.
The video has received a sympathetic response, with many people praising the farmers for their earnest dedication and hard work throughout all the hardships they face.
“When they say everything is blown away in the wind, few people can imagine what it means when you actually see the work that you invested so much money in, and even more time, dedication, and sacrifices, all lost in 24 hours,” one comment said in response to the video.
A free-phone helpline has been set up for farmers and fishermen who need assistance following last weekend’s storm
Anyone requiring assistance or information can call the secretariat on 8007 2213 between 8am and 7pm from Sunday to Monday.