By Annette Chrysostomou
A NEW Eurostat report shows that Cyprus has the least amount of young farmers in the EU, and there is a sharp decrease in the use of agricultural land.
In 2013, almost one in three holding managers in the EU was aged 65 or over, and Cyprus is one of the three countries with the oldest farmers. It is ranked third with 40 per cent after Portugal (50.1 per cent), and just after Romania (41 per cent).
Germany (6.5 per cent), Austria (8.6 per cent) and Poland (9.6 per cent) are at the other end of the scale.
When it comes to the proportion of young farmers, Cyprus is at the very bottom of the scale. A mere 1.7 per cent of all holding managers are currently aged below 35, far below the EU average of six per cent. Denmark and Portugal follow with 2.5 per cent each.
The largest decrease of utilised agricultural area between 2003 and 2013 was also registered in Cyprus (-30.1 per cent), followed by Austria (-16.3 per cent) and Slovakia (-11 per cent), while the highest increase was recorded in Bulgaria (+60.1 per cent), followed by Latvia (+26.1 per cent) and Greece (+22.4%)
Overall at EU level, slightly more than a quarter (27.5 per cent) of holdings disappeared between 2003 and 2013, and in Cyprus this trend was similar, with a decline of 21.7 per cent.
While the holdings and the utilised area decreased, the average agricultural area per holding grew from 11.7 hectares in 2003 to 16.1 hectares in 2013. This upward trend is noticeable in every EU member state, except Cyprus where it dwindled from 3.5 hectares on average to 3.1.