The government pledged on Friday to support farmers while potato growers said they were struggling to survive, listing a slew of problems including the weather and fuel costs.

Agriculture Minister Petros Xenofontos expressed his support to potato farmers during a visit around farms in Kokkinohoria, aimed at “listening to them and hearing the problems they are facing.”

“I can see there’s good production and we are by their side. We want to support and show our presence that we support the primary sector of Cyprus’ economy, which is our production.”

Andreas Karyos, representing potato farmers said the weather conditions including strong winds and frost led to a lot of potatoes left on the field.

He added the framework the government uses to document damages linked to external factors is weak and needs to be amended. “Three years since its implementation, we have seen its weaknesses and we need to find solutions.”

Potato farmers will have a meeting with the agriculture minister on May 25 for a more detailed discussion over the issues.

Currently, average production of potatoes is at 4.5 tonnes per donum. Damages are recorded at three tonnes and as such, this is not helpful, Karyos said.

“It is difficult for potato farmers to survive with the increasing costs on fuel and everything else. We need support.”