The cabinet on Wednesday green-lit a proposal to buy 36,000 tonnes of barley and corn in two shipments, to ease a shortage of grains on the market in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said the situation was being monitored and if necessary new orders would be placed.

“There are already stocks from pre-existing orders that will keep arriving until the middle of April, so these will be additional quantities,” he said after the cabinet meeting.

Kadis told the House agriculture committee on Tuesday that his ministry would work with importers to manage these strategic reserves.

The total cost will be €12.5m, with the state taking what he described as a precautionary measure to ensure adequacy of stocks.

According to Kadis, the planned purchases should guarantee adequacy of grains for three-and-a-half months for flour milling, and 15 days for livestock feed.

The government has a plan for where to buy these quantities from. If Cyprus does not manage to secure the commodities from the European Union, it would look at the US market.

In parliament, the head of the sheep and goat farmers association Sotiris Kadis appealed for urgent assistance from the state, saying that “any day now, there won’t be feed left for the animals.”

The cow farmers association said the entire livestock farming sector is in a state of collapse, and in the worst position ever. And the prevailing prices mean that businesspeople won’t be able to afford to buy grains.

Cyprus is understood to have enough stocks for livestock for six weeks and human consumption for four months.

Also on Wednesday, Disy leader Averof Neophytou welcomed the cabinet’s decision, saying it ensured adequacy of grain stocks while easing inflationary pressures on food products.

He also called for a price cap on grains, saying he has put the proposal to the ministers of agriculture and commerce.

Days ago, Commerce Minister Natasa Pilides said a price ceiling might be imposed on cereals – but if so, only for those intended for human consumption. However she did not appear enthusiastic about the idea.

Approximately 90 per cent of grains consumed in Cyprus are used for animal feed.

Russia and Ukraine are two of the world’s biggest grain suppliers. The war and the sanctions against Russia have led to a scramble for alternative supplies.