Potato diplomacy as Malta seeks new era of Namibian relations

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta is donating 500 tonnes of potatoes to Namibia under its overseas aid programme in an effort to open a new chapter in relations between the two countries.

Maltese farmers had expected to export the potatoes to the Netherlands, but a drop in demand there because of the coronavirus crisis mean they were no longer required.

The Maltese government decided to step in and buy the potatoes instead to save the country's farmers from losses.

Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said Namibia had suffered a severe drought and Malta's donation was expected to help around half a million people in the southern African country.

"Malta was among the first countries to back independence for Namibia 30 years ago and we awarded many scholarships to Namibians at the time," Bartolo wrote on Facebook.

"We want to start a new page in our relations in order to boost trade and other mutual cooperation to create jobs in Namibia and Malta," he added.

The consignment of potatoes leaves Malta on Monday.


(Reporting by Chris Scicluna; Editing by Alexander Smith)