Over €850 million in European and national funds will be allocated to support the rural areas of the island, Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said on Friday.

He was speaking at an event for the promotion of the Mediterranean Diet at the “CAMEIROS” Park, in Meneou, held by the Cyprus Farmers’ Union (CSU), in cooperation with the National Rural Network.

Xenophontos said that his ministry is working tirelessly to enhance the competitiveness of the primary sector, as well as the processing and utilisation of agricultural products by the producers themselves.

He said the main objective is to revitalise the countryside, ensure a fair income for the producer, ensure food quality and support the age renewal of the agricultural sector.

The agricultural sector in Cyprus is facing serious difficulties, the minister said, explaining that the economic crisis of the previous decade followed by the coronavirus pandemic, also had a significant impact on the economic life of our country and therefore on the agricultural sector.

In addition, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict created an energy and food issue globally, which could not leave Cyprus unaffected, with energy and agricultural input prices rising rapidly, he said.

Taking into account the above facts and the difficult circumstances that arose, three packages of measures, totalling €41.5 million, were provided as financial assistance to the sectors most affected and to counter inflationary trends, the minister said.

Furthermore, all available European financial instruments were being used to modernise the agricultural sector.

According to the minister, “with the completion of the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020 by this year, when its transitional period ends, we will ensure the allocation of more than €850 million of European and national funds, targeted to our rural world.”

At the same time, he said, “we are proceeding with the call for Interventions, under the new Common Agricultural Policy until 2027, to further support agricultural activity and the sustainable development of rural areas.”

He added that the actions are in the light of the Union’s broader Farm to Plate Strategy for a more climate-resilient agriculture, which promotes health and food quality, environmental protection, the preservation of landscapes and biodiversity and the stimulation of rural areas.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry remains focused on certain “essential objectives”, the minister said. These concern the increasing of the agricultural sector competitiveness, enhancing knowledge and introducing innovation to ensure a fair income for farmers, improve their position in the labour market and ensuring generation renewal as well as protecting farmers from exogenous shocks such as bad weather.