Cypriot farmers plan to hit the streets in solidarity with their European counterparts, on Saturday in Paphos, and next Thursday in Nicosia, they warned on Friday.

Farmers in Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Greece, Portugal and Romania have taken to the streets in recent weeks amid tensions over the impact on farming of the EU’s green policies they say are devastating their livelihoods, as well as opening the door to cheap Ukrainian imports for which the EU has waived quotas.

In most countries, farmers say they are not paid enough, are choked by taxes, red tape and excessive environmental rules. Farmers also take issue with new EU subsidy rules, such as a requirement to leave four per cent of farmland fallow.

On Thursday farmers threw eggs and stones at the European Parliament, starting fires near the building and setting off fireworks amid protests to press a summit of European Union leaders to do more to help them.

The Paphos farmers say they will protest in solidarity along the Amargetis-Galatarias-Statos road at 10am on Saturday. They will congregate at the intersection that leads from Galataria to Statos. They say their plan does not involve blocking traffic.

Farmers’ problems are now “a pan-European problem,” they said, due to high production costs, reduced prices imposed on producers by traders, and difficulties created by intensifying regional conflicts.

They will call on the government to act immediately to avoid worst-case scenarios developing in Cyprus. They say conditions for them are becoming equally as difficult, not only due to high production costs, including energy prices, but also the reduction in prices from traders for their produce.

Later on Friday in a general announcement, the agricultural organisations Pek, Eka, Panagrotiki and Evroagrotikos said they would take to the streets of the capital to protest the EU’s “wrong polices”.

The Nicosia protest will culminate at Europe House on Byron Avenue where a resolution will be delivered to the European Commission. The farmers‘ groups called on the public to march with them “because it is an issue that concerns all consumers and every household”, they said.

“The situation has gotten out of hand. The cost of production is unreal. Green taxation is imposed on water, land, animals, trees, plants, seeds and in general on the whole food chain,” the announcement said. The farmers also mentioned that freight rates and export costs were increasing at the same time as cheaper imports from Ukraine and other third countries were rampant.

“At the same time, the EU is proceeding with a trade agreement with Latin American countries for the import of agricultural products that do not meet European quality standards, also promoting unfair competition.”

On Thursday, general-secretary of Eka farmers union Panikos Hambas warned that tractors had already surrounded the institutions of the European Union and that Cypriot producers would have 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.

Cyprus’ 2021-2026 EU-approved Recovery and Resilience Plan, which the current government has taken ownership of, contains ambitious plans to reform the agricultural sector. It says that in general, Cyprus’ agriculture sector “is characterised by low productivity, increased fragmentation and old farmers’ population”.

“There is also a lack of awareness and knowledge of the benefits of technological solutions, methodological implementations, such as livestock genetic improvement, as well as technical know-how to implement or take advantage of solutions (including smart agriculture), which will make farms more productive and cost competitive,” it added.

“In addition, agricultural contribution to greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced through the development of innovative practices and an efficient monitoring system.”

The plan says the sector has faced various challenges in the last decades, including the lack of investment in new technologies and methodologies and business models that would render it competitive. Although there is already agricultural research providing new knowledge, it tends to remain fragmented and poorly applied in practice, it adds.

“Further, insufficient or very slow uptake of new knowledge and innovative solutions in agriculture, hinders the smooth transition to a more sustainable agriculture, as well as the competitiveness and sustainable development of the agricultural sector.”