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Plan in place to deal with increased fires, climate change

fire2

Fire prevention and management measures are to be stepped up in the light of expected increases due to climate change, Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said on Tuesday.

He said the ministry will suggest changes as of next year after identifying weaknesses in the current system that need to be urgently addressed, with the focus on the growing risk of wildfires spreading from forest to inhabited areas.

“I want to stress the importance of preparing for future challenges posed by wildfire and climate change,” he said.

Xenophontos is set to meet President Nikos Christodoulides in the upcoming days to present the plan.

“This summer’s extreme temperatures and prolonged drought have deeply impacted both our forests and our rural areas.

“These are issues that the agriculture ministry is taking very seriously and we asked the forestry department to assist us”.

Xenophontos also hailed the fire department’s efforts to aid those affected by the recent major wildfire in the Limassol region.

He said relief measures for farmers have already been put in place, including compensation for up to 80 per cent of losses of crops for farmers taking part in the Rural Development Programme.

As regards climate change, Xenophontos assured that one of the ministry’s goals is to ensure the rational use of resources, promote sustainable development, and enhance stability.

The minister also underlined the vital role of agriculture in ensuring food security and the need to encourage more individuals, especially young people, to engage in farming.

“It is important to produce local food, in order to better promote our resilience in times of need, as well as to contribute to our economy,” he said.

Regarding the challenges faced by vineyard owners during last winter’s extreme weather conditions, Xenophontos said that the agriculture ministry is setting up meetings to listen to their demands.

Addressing food security and the release of strategic stocks, both for feed and human consumption, Xenophontos expressed confidence that following the decision to release 7,000 tonnes of maize for feed, there would be no further needs at this time.

“If the crisis intensifies, we are here to help the livestock sector,” he said.

The government is currently in talks with grain importers to evaluate the necessity of maintaining strategic reserves. The minister underlined the importance of ensuring adequate supplies to produce bread.

Regarding support measures for Akamas region communities, Xenophontos announced the approval of several support measures for sustainable development and environmental protection in the area.

Lastly, Xenophontos said that infrastructure projects, including road construction plans, will be implemented gradually between 2025 and 2026, following a study aimed at fostering development in the broader Akamas region.

 

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