Agriculture, farming and fisheries could become profitable and sustainable employment sectors, but need to adapt to new technologies to address high production cost, the water shortage and the domestic market, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis has said.
“We are working to support our farmers,” Koyyialis said in an interview with the Cyprus News Agency. The minister said a total of €47.7 million had been allocated to the agricultural sector, since 2013 to date, €37.6 million of which came from EU funds.
Also he said, the cabinet had approved the allocation of €240 million to the agricultural economy for the period 2014-2020, through the new Agricultural Development Programme expected to be approved by the European Commission.
He said that €53 million would be allocated to the fisheries sector on the basis of two projects approved by the Council of Ministers, out of which €40 million would come from the EU.
On the environment, he said the government was aiming at green growth, including jobs.
Kouyialis said despite the crisis, prospects were promising.
He said his ministry was doing its utmost to address the adverse repercussions for Cypriot citrus growers who were affected by the Russian embargo on agricultural and fisheries products.
Referring to the recent EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which discussed the Russian embargo, Kouyialis said that it was particularly important for Cyprus and that “we stressed the need to further support affected farmers,” and take more measures with a view to “radically and decisively address the adverse consequences for European farmers.”
He also stressed the need to open third markets, especially those of EU neighbouring countries to Cypriot products.
Cyprus had also managed to amend an EU plan that did not provide for financial aid to citrus growers, and expressed the hope the country would be able to absorb most of the €4 million earmarked for Cypriot producers.
Asked about the problem of water shortage, Kouyialis said this was one of the biggest challenges that Cyprus has to face in terms of irrigation.
He said the ministry was currently working on a seven-year plan for the construction of the necessary infrastructure with a view to use recycled water as of 2017, expressing hope that by 2020 they would be able to provide 40 million cubic metres of recycled water to cover approximately 25 per cent of total irrigation needs. (CNA)