With a total expected expenditure of 454 million euros, the Government presented on Tuesday the new Strategic Plan of the Common Agricultural Policy 2023-2027, which the Minister of Agriculture described as the Government's legacy for the primary sector.
< p>In his greeting, the President of the Republic, Nikos Anastasiadis, mentioned that the new Strategic Plan of the Common Agricultural Policy, which has recently been approved by the European Commission, contains actions, parallel to the Cyprus – Tomorrow Plan, of the Resilience Plan. These actions, he added, are aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, at ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, at the aging of the agricultural population, at upgrading the services provided in the countryside and at the further technological development of the agricultural sector and at the creation of additional jobs.
The President expressed his satisfaction, since as he said during the last decade, the European resources of the Common Agricultural Policy are utilized by Cyprus to the maximum extent possible, ensuring full absorption of the available funds.
“This fact confirms the special interest that the Government has shown and is showing for farmers, the sustainable development of the countryside and the improvement of the quality of life of its inhabitants”, he said.
President: 750 million to farmers through CAP in the last decade
He noted at the same time that during the ten years of government, more than 750 million euros were channeled to farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy. He also said that a series of national plans to support the agricultural world have been implemented, which were an important support in the effort of farmers and breeders to cope with the difficult conditions that have arisen in recent years.
Indicatively, he indicated that in relation to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Council of Ministers approved packages of targeted financial support measures exceeding 50 million euros.
In addition, he said, through the new policy of replacing the loss of agricultural income with the operation of the Risk Management Fund in the Agricultural Sector, from August 2019 until today, compensations of 32 million euros were granted to farmers who had suffered losses from omens and extreme weather events. From 2013 until August 2019, when the insurance plan was revised, for the same reasons, as he said, approximately 20 million euros were granted through the agricultural insurance plan.
The President also referred to the reorganization, improvement and modernization of the agricultural sector in line with EU policies, with various actions, such as the reform of the field of risk management in agricultural production, the legislation to deal with Unfair Trade Practices, the legislation on improving the operation of the People's Markets, the creation of a register of farmers and the highlighting of the uniqueness of Cypriot products, by registering them in the lists of geographical indications of the EU.
Referring in particular to the registration of halloumi as a Protected Designation of Origin product (P.O.P), said that this development has already had a positive effect on halloumi sales.
He also mentioned the inclusion in the National Plan “Cyprus of Tomorrow”, in addition to the Common Agricultural Policy, of a significant number of projects and reforms that are expected to have a positive effect on the country's agricultural activity.
“The resources that will be allocated to agricultural sector through the new Strategic Plan, but also through national resources, provide incentives and support to anyone who wishes to engage in agriculture and animal husbandry and implement the actions and measures offered”, noted the President.
Kadis: The new Strategic Plan is handed over to the Government
In his presentation, the Minister of Agriculture Kostas Kadis characterized the new plan as the legacy that the current Government will leave to support the primary sector. The Plan, he said, fully reflects the vision of the Ministry of Agriculture for the future of Cypriot agriculture and rural areas.
General objectives of the new policy are the promotion of a resilient agricultural sector, the strengthening of the environment and actions for the climate, as well as strengthening the social fabric in the countryside.
The program, he said, is fully adapted to the new challenges that have emerged recently such as the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it contributes to the national goals set in the Green Deal and is the product of broad consultation with society, agricultural organizations , the academic and research community, productive sectors and environmental agencies.
Mr. Kadis stated that the new Strategic Plan is based on the nine objectives of the CAP, which are the support of sustainable agricultural incomes and resilience to support food security, the increase of competitiveness, with an emphasis on research and digital transformation, the improvement of position of farmers in the food chain, contributing to mitigating the effects of climate change and promoting sustainable development and effective management of natural resources. Also contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and habitats, attracting new farmers and facilitating business development in rural areas, promoting employment, social inclusion and local development in rural areas and improving the responsiveness of agriculture to the demands of society about food and health.
Mr. Kadis made special reference to important actions of the new Plan such as the restoration of agricultural potential from natural disasters, the reduction of energy costs, through the utilization of Renewable Energy Sources, the further strengthening of the role of Producer Groups/Organizations and the financing of new projects utilization of recycled water to reduce the use of surface and ground water. Also the further reduction of losses of the large irrigation networks, the compensatory aid to farmers for compliance with obligations towards Natura 2000 area decrees, the implementation of interventions for young farmers, the more favorable support framework for the establishment of young farmers in mountainous areas and the commitment to a significant increase of holdings and areas in organic agriculture and animal husbandry.
Asked if any measurable targets have been set in the CAP plan, the Minister said that targets have been set in specific areas such as the reduction of antibiotics where specific targets within specific time frames.
“I believe that the overall successful implementation of the strategic plan will also have a positive impact on the share of the agricultural sector in the state's GDP,” he said, noting, however, that no specific goal has been set to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP.
Increasing the adjustment period for halloumi
Answering a question about the objectives regarding the increase in goat milk production for halloumi production, Mr. Kadis stated that there are the national goals so that Cyprus meets the quota provided by the standard.
He revealed that there is a positive development, since it appears that through the coordinated moves made by the Republic of Cyprus, it has managed to be included in the revision of the regulation on geographical indication products, a special provision that will ensure in exceptional cases the extension of the transitional period by five years.
“It seems that in order to be able to adapt to the percentage (use of goat's and sheep's milk) included in the halloumi specification, we will have more time, and therefore the possibility of utilizing all these measures in order to reach the intended goal,” he said.
< p>He expressed the opinion that with the finalization of this regulation, which is expected to be done in the Spring, decrees should be entered that determine the increase in the quota until Cyprus reaches 50% of the use of goat and sheep milk, so that everyone knows that they can be adjusted to this data.
“It is certainly something that the next government will handle,” he said.
Kadis: Participation in the new government is not an end in itself
When asked whether he considers that he could continue his work at the Ministry in the new Government, Mr. Kadis limited himself to saying “circles are closing, it is not an end in itself”. immigrants in the primary sector instead of receiving benefits, Mr. Kadis confirmed that there are often complaints from farmers that they bring labor from abroad who then move to other sectors.
He added that in cooperation with both the late Minister of Labor Zeta Emilianidou and the Minister of the Interior, the framework was differentiated so that a worker who comes for agricultural purposes cannot move to another sector, however, as he said, this is still done illegally.
In of days, he said, a policy will be announced on the subject, as informed by President Anastasiades.