The multitude of plans, goals, and calculations do not always correspond to the actual conditions of implementation of a policy, but this is not the case (any other) with the Strategic Plan of Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027.
By Manolis Kalatzis
The first year of implementation of the Plan could be described as more than promising for Cyprus, since almost 30,000 applications for aid were submitted.
The EU has provided the possibilities and the funding , but beyond that, Cyprus and specifically the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, was able to win the bet through the simplification of procedures and the organization of services, with the results being tangible and recorded through numbers.
The goal of informing farmers and understanding the benefit is a fact, which facilitated innovative interventions and new approaches:
- Strengthening and contribution of Cypriot Agriculture to the achievement of EU environmental and climate goals.< /li>
- Supporting the primary sector.
- More targeted support for young and smaller farms.
- Strengthening the food security sector,
It should be mentioned that the beneficiaries have benefited from the beginning of 2023 until today with the amount of approximately €40,000,000, while in 2023 the payments for specific measures of the Rural Development Program 2014-2022 continued.
< p>The Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union is implemented in Cyprus through the Strategic Plan of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027, with the total amount of the Plan amounting to €454,000,000, of which €373,000,000 be an EU contribution.
Milestone in 2023
The largest number of applications submitted to the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organization (COAP) in 2023 was for the Direct Payments Interventions, while the estimated amount that the beneficiaries receive gradually upon completion of the examination of the applications amounts to €47,800,000.
Special mention could be made of the “Basic Income Support for Sustainability”, in the context of which the beneficiaries are supported with the total amount of €31,400,000. This is an Intervention that is the main tool for supporting agricultural income and aims to make Agriculture more economically efficient, with the production of safe, healthy and affordable food for everyone. At the same time, Farmers are “rewarded” for taking care of the countryside and the environment. Farmers, as a rule, receive income support based on the size of their farm in hectares.
Also included in the Direct Payment Interventions is the “Supplementary Redistributive Income Support” for which the estimated financial support amounts to €2,800.00. This specific Intervention aims to adequately support small and medium-sized farms, so that the objective of income support is effectively achieved and at the same time the smallest loss for the largest farms.
With respect for the Environment
With respect for the Environment
An important role in the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 is also played by the Ecological Programs with applications of the circular economy in agriculture, in the environmental management of livestock systems, in the preservation of biodiversity and others.
Specifically, in 2023 applications were submitted and the financial support was paid to the beneficiaries for actions included in the Intervention “Ecological Programs to reduce the burden of soil and water from chemical plant protection preparations” with the estimated subsidy reaching €4,400,000.
These are actions concerning the “Application of Solar Pollination in open crops and greenhouses” and the “Exclusion of the use of herbicides in systematic plantations and scattered trees”.
Also, for the “Linked aid for sheep and goats” 865 applications with an estimated grant amount of €4,000,000.
Holistic policy for the land and its people
For the “Additional support for young people” – a total of 366 applications were submitted with an estimated funding amount of €500,000. This is additional income support for sustainability, in the form of decoupled support aimed at additional support for the agricultural income of young farmers.
The Plan and the policies implemented on its basis have also provided support for those who cultivate citrus fruits in the dead zone with the available amount amounting to €220,000.
The number of applications submitted for the Rural Development Interventions was also significant, specifically for the Intervention for “Support for areas facing natural or other disadvantages”. Specifically, through this Intervention, aid is paid to the agricultural holdings of the above areas to compensate for the financial losses and the additional costs incurred during the exercise of the agricultural activity. The estimated amount that has been paid exceeds €5,000,000.
Promising and “fruitful” in 2024
We are already in the second month of 2024 and according to the Administrative Authority of the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027, of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment and the Strategic Plan, the possibility of a series of Interventions is provided, always focusing on the support of farmers, depending with the extent of their exploitation. In particular, next month, within the framework of the Single Application for Hectare Subsidies, farmers will have the opportunity to apply for the basic aid granted to all holdings that comply with the minimum environmental obligations. Additionally, they will have the possibility to participate in a multitude of agro-environmental Interventions depending on the type of their cultivation and the planning of their work. These Interventions include the support of organic agriculture, and the granting of aid to disadvantaged areas.
This will be followed in April by the announcements of the capital Interventions for livestock farmers, i.e. the measures in which the aid is paid according to the number of animals declared in the application and related to the observance of animal welfare actions, actions that contribute to the reduction of the use of antibiotics, organic production and the preservation of local breeds of animals.
Payments for these measures exceed €65,000,000 and are expected to be paid towards the end of the year.
At the same time, in the second half of 2024, announcements of the investment Interventions of the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 are expected, including Interventions for investments in the primary sector, in the processing of agricultural products as well as in investments in public infrastructure in rural areas.
Timeless EU support
The 2014-2020 Rural Development Program was implemented with its official approval by the European Commission on December 3, 2015.
The European Commission, due to a delay in finalizing the regulations of the next programming period 2021-2027, decided the extension of the Rural Development Programs by two years. As a result, the European Commission granted Cyprus an additional amount of €52,000,000. The total budget of the Rural Development Program 2014-2020 amounted to €330,000,000, of which €185,000,000 is a contribution from the EU.
By 31 December 2023 payments amounted to €255,000,000 (77%) of which €146,000,000 were paid from EU funds. Payments under the Rural Development Program will be completed at the end of 2025.
The future lies in supporting young people
The Ministry of Agriculture, taking advantage of the possibilities provided by the EU projects, supports all young farmers under 40 years of age who are engaged in the profession for the first time as the head of an agricultural holding with financial assistance of €20,000 – €50,000, depending on the amount of investments included in their business plan as well as whether their holding is located in a mountainous area.
At the same time, in the context of the measure for “Investments in tangible assets” the opportunity was given, both to the beneficiary young farmers, but also to other young farmers, to implement investments to create modern and competitive farms.
In total, in the context of these two announcements, the applications of more than 450 young farmers were approved. Additionally, three announcements were made in the context of which applications from more than 900 beneficiaries were approved with a total commitment amount exceeding €100,000,000. It should be pointed out that the great majority of young people who benefited from the 2014-2020 Rural Development Program are professionals involved in animal husbandry and in particular goat and sheep breeding.