Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou extolled the virtues of roses at the village of Agros’ 16th Rose Festival on Saturday.

She described the festival as “a celebration which aims to highlight the cultivation of roses as well as the promotion of traditional products prepared with the processing of roses.”

Speaking about the history of roses, she said, “since ancient times, the rose has played a central role in the everyday life of Greeks and of peoples of the region.”

She said, “the first description thereof was made by Theophrastus, who mentions varieties which were cultivated in Philippi and on the Pangaion hills,” both of which are located in the Greek region of Macedonia.

She added that the most common variety seen in Cyprus today is the Damask Rose, which were first imported to the island by monks from the Kykkos Monastery after they had made a trip to Romania.

She went on to explain, “the cultivation of the Damask Rose in Agros was started by the teacher and folklorist Nearchos Clerides, who urged his students to plant 50 rose bushes in their families’ fields.”

“Since then, rose cultivation has been an activity characteristic of the region, creating income and jobs, as well as beautifying and upgrading its natural environment,” she said.

She added, “it is really impressive to see at the moment the fields bathed in pink hues and filling the atmosphere with the divine fragrance of this particular rose.”

“The rose, a plant which for centuries has been inextricably linked to the culture and history of our island, is an important element of our local production, which unites us with our roots and traditions,” she said.

With this in mind, she pointed out that the government applied to have the Agros rose registered at the European Union as a protected geographical indication product in 2016, and that examinations of the application are ongoing.

She then listed a raft of policies put forth by the government to support Cyprus’ rose industry and urged producers to “take advantage of these financial tools, which are beneficial both for the sustainability of farms and the environment.”