The National Rural Networks have been set up in each Member State of the EU in order to bring together rural stakeholders involved in rural development. Although they may have different structures, the objective of these Networks is to support the implementation and evaluation of rural development policy through communication and exchange of knowledge, information and good practices at regional, national and EU level.
The Maltese National Rural Network (MNRN) is a key component of the Rural Development Programme for Malta 2007-2013 and is managed by the Managing Authority within the Ministry for European Affairs and the Implementation of the Electoral
The main objectives of the Maltese network are to:
Bring together rural stakeholders;
Develop and enhance channels of communication through information activities;
Exchange experiences and good practices;
Stimulate dialogue between rural stakeholders;
Improve the overall performance and success of the Rural Development Programme and its evaluation;
Enhance the bottom-up approach;
Assist Local Action Groups through training programmes and inter-territorial and trans-national cooperation initiatives.
The Maltese National Rural Network is established and managed from within the Managing Authority for Rural Development. Nevertheless, rural actors and stakeholders have a primary role in the running of this Network in order to ensure that it has a wide representation of organisations and administration involved in all four axis of the Rural Development Programme.
As part of the Network, a Steering committee and a Coordination committee have been established to manage and implement the actions established in the action plan of the Network respectively.
These committees are made up of representatives of various rural sectors including government, agriculture, non-governmental organisations and local action groups. These committees meet on a regular basis to discuss activities and other related issues of the Network.
The specific functions of the Network include the following:
Ensure a wider participation of all rural actors and stakeholders in the activities organised by the Network;
Ensure cooperation and dialogue necessary for bringing about change;
Develop and promote common approaches and best practices;
Maximise involvement and collaboration of all local rural actors in order to ascertain the successful implementation of the Rural Development programme given its increased number of measures, the wider scope of action and the broader spread of eligible beneficiaries;
Secure information flow,
Synergise and maximise limited resources available in a sustainable manner;
Provide support in the setting up and developing of the LEADER programme in Malta.
As part of the objectives and functions of the Maltese National Rural Network, an important activity that shall be carried out is the discussion of particular subjects relevant to Maltese rural development policy, especially in meeting the objectives of the four axis of the Rural Development Programme for Malta and the challenges of the future Common Agricultural Policy.
Three thematic areas have been tackled by the National Rural Network Malta Committee during 2010 and 2011;
a. Competitiveness, multi-functionality and adding value to agricultural products;
b. Water Management;
c. Rural Tourism - how Malta could value and use agricultural resources to attract tourism
d. Climate Change and Renewable Energy;
e. The role of local action groups within rural areas.
Thematic areas were discussed in focus groups and seminars composed of representatives from rural actors or through the distribution of e-newsletters.
Their objectives are to:
- Evaluate the impact of the thematic area under the current programme and local rural development policy;
- Evaluate the relevance of the thematic area to the Maltese Islands;
- Identify ways and means how the thematic area can transmit tangible benefits to the rural community;
- Gather ideas and suggestions from rural stakeholders on how the rural development programme and policy can address the needs of the rural areas.
A National Rural Network conference was held on the 15th of June, 2012. During this conference, six new thematic were presented for discussion in focus groups during 2012 and 2013, including:
- Increasing returns to the fresh produce sector and improving efficient input use;
- Improving long-term sustainability of the livestock sector in Malta;
- Food-processing and adding value - establishing quality chains and new products;
- Direct sales of fresh produce;
- Making a high quality rural visitor experience;
- Enhancing the landscape and adapting to future water challenges.
In order to achieve its objectives, namely that of bringing rural actors together while supporting the implementation and evaluation of the rural development policy in Malta, the Maltese Rural Network shall be organising a variety of events and activities.