Crop farming is to be modernised through investment, precision farming, and the use of anti-hail netting, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis told farmers at a briefing on Tuesday.
Kadis highlighted the pressing need for the modernisation of agriculture and an increase in competitiveness given the effects that climate change is expected to have on the sector.
An area’s weather conditions and microclimate form the basic impetus for the development of agriculture, Kadis said. At the same time, economic and environmental factors, as well as the availability and quality of produce, highlight the need for a new way of managing farming.
“Precision farming is a modern method of managing agricultural plots by employing new farming techniques, and individualising irrigation based on the microclimate by identifying different input levels in different areas of the field, taking into account the production potential of each area and the desired result,” he said.
Kadis noted that netting was also being increasingly used on a global scale in farming. “They are used for shading, for protection from insects, wind, and hail,” Kadis said.
The nets, which alter the microclimate contained within them and which decrease the levels of water needed by crops, allow for irrigation based on the true needs of crops, Kadis noted. Together with new technology such as remote sensing, a more efficient water management can be achieved, he added.
Kadis said that investment for anti-hail netting and new farming technologies in mountain regions will be promoted by the end of the year within the framework of the rural development programme 2014-2020.
He highlighted that modern production techniques served to boost profits, either though an increase in production or through a decrease in costs. Part of the task of reducing costs is also the decrease in negative effects on the environment through the use of chemicals, he added.
“Farmers today, in order to stay afloat competitively, will have to produce high quality and low-cost products, using environmentally friendly methods,” he added.
The island’s yield is highly dependent on weather conditions, with farmers in recent years experiencing more intense flash rains and hailstorms throughout the year. At stake are farmers’ livelihoods, with the ministry being called to step in after crops are damaged, as well as the availability of local food produce.