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State seeks place on EU map for Cyprus potatoes

Potatoes being picked in Cyprus' red villages

Work is to begin on putting Cyprus potatoes on the EU list of protected geographical indications (PGI) products, Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said on Tuesday.

Speaking on CyBC’s morning radio broadcast, Kadis said: “We believe Cyprus potatoes need to be recognised as products of protected geographical indications.”

He added a team from the Agricultural University of Athens, specialised in preparing the applications for the European Union, are expected to arrive on the island soon to help prepare the file.

The team will work with the agricultural department to prepare the application.

General-secretary of farmers’ union Panagrotikos Tassos Yiapanis said the group welcomes this initiative.

“Such actions help our country and our products,” he said.

He added Cypriot potatoes will be given ‘quality ratings’ if the application is approved by the EU.

Cyprus potatoes have long enjoyed a reputation for quality both at home and abroad with reports over the years that other locations have put red mud on their potatoes to pass them off as coming from Cyprus.

More recently, potatoes from Greece have reportedly been passed off as Cypriot potatoes and Kadis said he has given his Greek counterpart all the evidence. The Greek government, Kadis said, informed him they will investigate the matter.

“If they [potatoes] are certified, it will be very difficult for such instances to occur, as every shipment will have an EU stamp,” he said.

Regarding an ongoing debate of halloumi and having it registered as a product of protected designated origin (PDO), Kadis said he needs to meet with EU agricultural and health officials.

Two years ago, the trademark for the cheese in the UK was lost due to the government’s failure to mount a challenge and dispatch the necessary paperwork within the set deadline after British-based company John & Pascalis Ltd filed three separate applications on December 22, 2017 to invalidate or revoke the trademark.

The company is owned by the cow farmers association who have always opposed the formula included in the PDO application.

According to that, halloumi must contain at least 51 per cent sheep’s and goats’ milk, in line with the traditional recipe.

Kadis added the meeting will be scheduled in due course, now that the world is exiting from the coronavirus regulations.

Cyprus has four products of protected geographical indication: Agros Rose Spoon Sweet, Paphos sausages, sugared Yeroskipou almonds, Yeroskipou Cyprus delights.

There is also one PDO product, which is Sotira Kolokassi (taro root).

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