Minister of Agriculture says interest in agricultural production is growing

Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Nicos Kouyialis, said on Thursday that people in Cyprus are turning to agricultural production, while the sector’s contribution to the countrys GDP is growing.

There is a shift, we feel this, we realize this, there is great interest in agricultural production, Kouyialis said while taking stock of the work of his Ministry. He said moreover that results during the last few years portray a very promising future.

According to the Minister, the value of agricultural production in 2014 reached its lowest point with Euros 320,9 mln, contributing just 1.8% to Cyprus’ GDP. He added that the latest statistical data show a rise in the value of agricultural production by more than 12% in just two years, reaching Euros 360 mln.

Kouyialis said the sector proved its resilience throughout the crisis, while its contribution stands today at 2% of GDP.

The picture I have in front of me today shows that the agricultural sector is based on solid grounds and has a future, as long as we protect it and develop it the right way, the Minister noted.

He said moreover that despite the negative economic climate, his Ministry managed to deliver a complex work, contributing to the country’s development.

Ministry revenues between 2010-2012 were quite low, according to Kouyialis, comprising just 25-30% of overall spending. With the current administration, revenues increased to 40% of spending, while other expenditures were minimized, he added. For the next three years, Kouyialis said that Ministry revenues will increase from Euros 93 mln in 2017 to Euros 100 mln for each year until 2020.

According to the Minister, budget implementation is over 70% from 2013 onwards and reached its highest point in 2014 with 90%. He added that EU participation in the Programme for Agricultural Development increased from 50% to 85% for the 2007-2013 period.

Kouyialis also noted that since 2013, the government supported farmers with more than Euros 87 mln and secured additional funding from European sources to offset Russia’s embargo.

Persisting challenges with regard to water development were also tackled, enhancing sustainable local development and contributing to the economic recovery, with projects worth Euros 306 mln, Euros 100 mln of which were spent in the last five years, he added.

Moreover, the Minister noted the implementation of environmental projects, worth Euros 85 mln.

Replying to questions, the Minister referred to an agreement among Cyprus, Greece and Israel for the protection of the maritime environment and the handling of incidents in the Mediterranean, due to be signed in early January.

Kouyialis said that there is a lot of research activity for hydrocarbons and we want to make sure that in case of an unfortunate incident, we will be ready to handle it. One country alone cannot deal with maritime pollution incidents, the Minister said and noted that the agreement will provide for the mobilization of human resources, equipment and other means.

Source: Cyprus News Agency