Farmers from Paphos staged a protest on Saturday morning on the road between Amargeti and Statos in solidarity with demonstrating European farmers.

Farmers from across the continent have descended on Brussels in recent days, incensed by new environmental regulations and trade agreements allowing for cheap imports of produce to undercut European farms, particularly the agreement with South American common market Mercosur.

Protests have extended across Europe, with the Dutch-Belgian border being blocked on Friday, while roads in Greece were occupied, and Polish farmers made plans to close border crossings with Ukraine.

Farmers’ union Pek’s Paphos district secretary Charalambos Pittokopitis said “the agricultural world of Cyprus, and in particular of the Paphos district, is on the brink of destruction.

“We have very high production costs and very low retail prices,” he said, adding that delays in payments have exacerbated the losses farmers have suffered in recent years.

Additionally, he said, inclement weather in April and May last year had a serious impact on fruit producers in Paphos, while the government said they will not reimburse them for their losses until Easter this year.

“Producers cannot support their families without income for a year,” he said, calling on the government to act to save Cypriot farming.

Herodotos Antoniades, Paphos district secretary of farmers’ union Eka, said farmers across Paphos are “leaving the profession one by one” due to ever stricter environmental regulations and increasing production costs.

He added that young farmers are “not being incentivised to stay in the profession”.

Meanwhile, local farmer Nikos Iakovou said Cypriot farmers are “facing the same problems European farmers face”, while another, Photis Pisiaras, called on the government to increase farming subsidies to keep farming sustainable.

Statos farmer Marios Kolios explained, “we feel completely abandoned, we are experiencing difficult living conditions and the cost of producing our produce is very high.”

With this in mind, he said, farmers are planning a meeting with Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou.

On Friday, farmers’ unions had put out a joint statement, saying “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.

“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,” they lamented.

Additionally, a further national protest is planned for next week at between the Paphos villages of Koilinia and Galataria, with Saturday’s protestors calling on farmers and sympathisers from across the island to join them.