[WATCH] Farmer sees livelihood blown away by gale force winds

Farmer Anna Zahra tells MaltaToday that it would take upwards of €20,000 to repair the damages caused by Sunday's gale force winds

Anna Zahra's farmland was battered
Anna Zahra's farmland was battered
Farmer's livelihood destroyed by gale force winds

Anna Zahra is on the verge of tears as she describes how Sunday's gale force winds took apart her farmland.

The costs would amount to around €20,000, she says, although full stock of damage is yet to be taken.

Zahra grows strawberries, melons, pumpkins, potatoes and more on government-owned land close to 20 tumoli in Fiddien, limits of Rabat.

Crops were destroyed after greenhouses were damaged
Crops were destroyed after greenhouses were damaged

"We can't afford to own this much land. Our income and livelihood depend entirely on farming," she says.

She shows us how greenhouses were torn apart by the wind - the tarpaulin has been pulled away, but the metal frame has bent under the powerful force too.

"We hope to get EU funds to help us repair all this damage," she says, gesturing to the uprooted marrows. "We hope farmers like us are compensated."

Wooden bee boxes lost their tops and many bees were lost
Wooden bee boxes lost their tops and many bees were lost

Zahra also breeds bees in wooden bee boxes and explains how Sunday's gusts pulled away the lids. Most of the bees were killed, she says.

In the greenhouse where melons were meant to grow, Zahra shows us that here too the metal skeleton has been pulled apart and the melon seedlings have been uprooted.

"We were hoping to sell these come April, but we've lost possible income here, not to mention the costs needed to repair this," she says.

Zahra said that she and her husband spent two full days salvaging onions and all the crops that could've been salvaged.

However, at the time of writing, the strawberries are still exposed to the elements. Rebuilding the protective tunnels will take a very long time, Zahra explains.

"I recently paid for the materials to build the protective covering for these strawberries. It cost €2,100," she says.

All that remains of the greenhouses are metal skeletons
All that remains of the greenhouses are metal skeletons

Zahra meanders from being hopeful to despair. She says that there's no stopping God, hoping that help will be forthcoming from the government and says she's ready to pull up the gloves and get to work.

"I am not ashamed to say that it's my son who is maintaining us right now. If it weren't for him, we don't know what we'd do," she tells us.

In Fiddien, Zahra says that most farmland is owned by the government and the church.

"I am very brokenhearted. All the work has been done away within a second. This storm came out of nowhere. We never expected it would get this far this quickly," she says.

Her story is that of many other farmers who saw their livelihood swept away by the gale force winds over the weekend. The government said on Sunday it would try and tap EU funds to compensate farmers for the damage caused by the storm.

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