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Minister pledges ‘immediate compensation’ to potato farmers

potato crops damaged
Flooded potato fields in Famagusta last week

Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou said on Thursday she had given instructions for immediate compensation to potato producers in the Famagusta region who had suffered immense damage from last week’s hailstorm, and heavy rains earlier this week.

In statements during a visit to Avgorou where she inspected the damage to crops, Panayiotou said that they had already held discussions with farmers’ organisations.

“I gave instructions immediately, as soon as the weather allows us to absorb the excess water and to proceed immediately to register the damage so that our farmers can have access to the compensation fund without delay,” she said.

When asked whether the farmers would receive sufficient support, the minister said that there had been a serious blow to potato and vegetable crops. A tornado had also destroyed two greenhouses in the Paralimni area, she added.

The risk-management fund, according to the minister has €8 million to cover compensation. “I am here to listen and to see what needs to be done so that the payment to our farmers is immediate.”

To a question about the delays in the payment to producers last year, the minister said she had given instructions for compensation to be delivered without delay. Last year it took around nine months to pay up but the minister said this needed to be shortened.

“What I expect is for the payments to be made immediately,” she said, adding that the aim was to have it done in the coming weeks, not months.

Andreas Karyos, representative of potato farmers said they were not happy with the agricultural compensation framework as it stands today.

“A change must be made and if no change is made now to cover this year’s damage, the state must come to the rescue and support additional damages with extra subsidies,” he said.

“We cannot stand alone. The current framework gives meagre compensation to potato producers“.

Tassos Giapanis, General Secretary of the farmers’ organisation Panagrotiki thanked the minister for responding so quickly to the call of the producers to visit the area and see the problems faced by the farmers.

“We credit the minister with good will that she will immediately bring about some corrections that are needed regarding the agricultural compensation framework and we hope that indeed the farmers will immediately benefit from the subsidy regarding the damages they suffered,” he said.

Panikos Hambas, the general-secretary of the farmers union Eka, warned that tractors had already  surrounded the institutions of the European Union in Paris, Germany, Greece and Spain, that Cypriot producers could end up having to do the same.

The Cypriot people must understand that without the farmers, there will be no food, therefore any problems that exist must be resolved,” he added.

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