Representatives of wheat and potato farmers left the agriculture minister’s office “satisfied” on Wednesday, after receiving assurances regarding support measures and an immediate €4.3 million in subsidies.

They noted, however, that they are reserving their right to continue their protests subject to a meeting on Thursday with the agricultural payments commissioner, from whom they said they “expect assurances of timely payments”.

Speaking after the meeting, Agriculture Minister Petros Xenophontos said a working group had been established to deal with farmers’ issues.

Additionally, various measures, including a reduction in the price payable by farmers for overconsumption of water, and work towards revisions in stipulations regarding the risk management fund, were also discussed.

Xenophontos also said the government is considering bringing forward the payment of compensation to farmers due to droughts and other issues, as well as convening the fund management committee next week to prepare a proposal for compensation for wheat farmers.

He also said work is underway to simplify procedures for the submission of applications for subsidies under the European Union’s common agricultural policy.

Panagrotic chairman Kyriakos Kailas described the proposals as “a step in the right direction”.

He said the unions want to “improve the situation so that this industry is sustainable” and said he welcomed Xenophontos’ proposals.

However, he said, “the tractors will remain where they are, without being a threat to anyone, until we finish tomorrow’s meeting with the agricultural payments commissioner.”

He also touched on President Nikos Christodoulides’ stated aim of the agriculture sector expanding to eventually produce five per cent of Cyprus’ gross domestic product, and said “to do this, a lot should be done in terms of re-engineering the sector”.

Meanwhile, farmers in Paphos symbolically blocked the old road between the town and Limassol at the village of Timi.

A total of 25 tractors have parked across the road, with the farmers saying they will remain there until Thursday, while the meeting between farmers’ representatives and the government continues in Nicosia.

They added that they are determined to “claim [their] rights in any way”.

They had threatened to block the road to the town’s airport.

Speaking at the gathering of tractors, farmers’ union Pek’s Paphos district secretary Charalambos Pittokopitis said the agricultural sector “is on life support” and called on the government to “support farmers and livestock breeders”.

He added that farmers are going through “very difficult times”.

Panagrotic Paphos district secretary Panikkos Kaponas said the sector “is on the brink of destruction”, while Eka Paphos district secretary Herodotos Antoniades said farmers “are in despair”.

Paphos police’s deputy chief of operations Michalis Nikolaou had earlier told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that the police are “taking [their] own measures to prevent the public from being inconvenienced or any other possibly illegal acts.”

The Nicosia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Evel) were less than impressed by the farmers’ actions, however, expressing their upset that “several dozen farmers practically froze all economic and social activity in the country’s capital for several hours” on Tuesday.

They accused the farmers of “pure blackmail” and said such protests “cannot be tolerated by anyone”.

They added that the “tolerance” shown by the government to the protestors means that “it will now be considered an acquired right of the few to blackmail the whole society with huge economic consequences.”