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Potato farmers will take action if state does not support them

Following the rise in prices that has been at the centre of disputes and protests all over Cyprus in recent weeks, potato farmers said on Thursday they will also take action if the state does not intervene to support them.

Three men have been arrested following Wednesday’s protests by livestock breeders who lit fires and poured milk on the road outside the presidential palace.

A day after the turmoil, potato farmers said that the increase in production and export costs added to the already substantial damage caused by the extreme weather conditions on the island throughout the winter months.

“We cannot make ends meet,” the president of the Pancyprian Organisation of Potato Producers Andreas Karios told the Cyprus Mail.

“A kilogramme of potatoes now costs around €1.20, already up from €0.80, which was the average price in 2021.

“We should really be selling potatoes for €1.50 per kilogramme, considering our current struggles, but then our sales would massively decrease, people would not be able to buy them,” Karios said.

Regarding exports, which he said account for around 80 per cent of the entire potato production on the island, he said that potential increased prices would translate into cancelled orders from other countries.

“Should this trend continue, we will be forced to limit planting new potato crops in the next months, which will have a knock-on effect in the years to come,” Karios added.

“The constant increasing prices of fuel and fertilisers have completely changed the plans for potato farmers in Cyprus.

“As a result, some of them have either reduced their production goals or even stopped planting new crops, as they are aware they will face heavy financial losses in the near future.”

Although some potato farmers were compensated by the state for the damage they suffered as a result of last winter’s severe weather bout, Karios said the support does not cover the situation they are facing at the moment.

“We are seeking extra help from the government, as we are already stretched after our efforts to save our crops in the winter.”

He then said that, should they not have a reply from the government soon, potato farmers will strongly consider larger protests, such as the ones carried out by livestock breeders.

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