23 May 2007

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First 340 Indigenous Maltese Olive Trees Planted

The Project for the Revival of the Maltese Olive (PRIMO) is gathering momentum and the first 340 indigenous Maltese olive trees produced following the launch of the Project in January of last year are being planted in various localities in Malta and Gozo.
A batch of 50 indigenous Maltese olive trees of the Bidnija variety was planted today by Bank of Valletta employees in Gudja during a press conference that was addressed by Sam Cremona who gave details about the progress being registered on the PRIMO project. The press conference was also addressed by the Hon. Dr Francis Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Fisheries in the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment and Charles Borg, Executive Head at the CEO’s Office of Bank of Valletta.
Parliamentary Secretary Dr Francis Agius said that the PRIMO project is an excellent example of collaboration between a private individual, Bank of Valletta and the Government through the Department of Agriculture. “We are pleased that the PRIMO project has delivered its first tangible results with successful grafting of 340 new indigenous Maltese olive trees that are now being planted in various localities in Malta which will serve to conserve a part of Malta’s agricultural heritage,” said Dr. Agius. He added that the Department of Agriculture was continuing to lend its support to the PRIMO project.
Dr. Agius said that PRIMO is a unique project. “The conservation of Maltese and Gozitan olive varieties will ensure that those varieties that have developed on these islands or which have been present for many years are not lost. This is also a conservation exercise that will permit the utilisation of such varieties on a commercial scale to complement other varieties which come mainly from Italy,” said Dr. Agius
Sam Cremona said that he was satisfied with the results of the first year of the PRIMO Project. “Whilst we would have liked to have more than 340 trees to plant this year, we still consider this result to be highly encouraging considering that these trees were grafted using imported rootstock which was not in its original habitat and, therefore, had to be acclimatized. Besides, the cuttings used to graft the rootstock were made from ancient trees and we were aware that the success rate would be impacted due to these factors”, stated Sam Cremona.
Charles Borg said that the PRIMO Project underlined Bank of Valletta’s support towards initiatives that seek to contribute towards the improvement of the Maltese environment and that bring forward the Maltese tradition. “Bank of Valletta believes that this project will have a sustained positive environmental impact and is thus extending its full support towards this initiative. The overwhelming interest in the project received during the first year and the success being achieved in this year’s grafting encourage us to continue to put our full weight behind this initiative,” said Mr. Borg.

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