By Annette Chrysostomou
The government is not doing enough to develop halloumi production despite a significant growth in exports and prospects for growth which include 2,000 potential new jobs by 2023, the cheesemakers association warned on Monday.
Exports of halloumi have rapidly increased during the last 10 years, with the first half of 2016 showing the largest increase in recent years, the association said in a statement, adding that exports for the first half increased by 21.75 per cent compared to the same period last year surpassing by far 10,000 tonmes and bringing income in excess of €71 million.
The association is concerned that the government makes incorrect predictions and doesn’t set any measurable targets especially in view of the ten-year period the island was granted from the European Commission when Cyprus applied to the EU to have halloumi registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 2015.
The period was granted so that Cyprus which faces a shortage of sheep and goat milk can catch up in this area. The halloumi file stipulates that the ratio of goat’s and sheep’s milk, or a combination, needs to be more than the amount of cow’s milk.
“The inability of the state to realise the importance of halloumi cheese to the country and the importance of taking immediate measures is unfortunately a destructive course, from which the cheese makers, farmers, and all workers in the field will suffer, and not the politicians who at the end of their term (long before the expiry of the 10-year period) will be at home enjoying their salaries and pensions,” the cheesemakers warned.
The association believes that levels of sheep and goat farming is still at the 2013 level. “Already two years have passed during which the state has done practically nothing for this purpose. There are no added incentives for farmers, and quantities of sheep and goats are not monitored,” they added.
In their statement they call on the government to make the most of the huge potential of the product, to not spill even one litre of goat’s or cow’s milk and to ensure that no jobs are lost.