The broad agricultural sector continues to be a fundamental sector of the Cyprus economy, both with respect to the production of essential food items for the population and exports and with respect to the employment of thousands of rural residents and the containment of the depopulation of the villages.
During the period 1960-1974, the agricultural sector expanded rapidly, but in 1974 it was severely affected by the Turkish invasion and occupation of part of Cyprus. The Turkish forces occupied an area which accounted for 46% of crop production and much higher percentages of citrus (79%), cereals (68%), tobacco (100%), carobs (86%) and green fodders (65%), while 45% of livestock production also emanated from the area.
Despite the concentration of population in the less productive part of the island, it was possible through concerted efforts and heavy investment in land improvement and irrigation to reactivate the agricultural sector and to reach the pre-1975 production levels. The broad agricultural sector contributed, in 2001, at current prices, some CY 211,9 million or about 3,6% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed approximately 23.400 persons (full-time equivalent) or 7,1% of the total economically active population. The gross output reached CY 375,2 million, as compared to CY 334,7 million in 2000. Agricultural exports (raw and processed) reached CY 71,8 million, constituting 30,7% of total domestic exports, compared to CY 62,6 million or 27,9% of total domestic exports in 2000. At constant (1995) prices, gross output reached CY 338,6 million in 2001, as compared to CY 313,7 million in 2000. Value added reached CY 185,4 million or about 3,7% of Gross Domestic Product.
Crop and Livestock Production - The two major sub-sectors of Cyprus agriculture are crop production and livestock production, which, in 2001, contributed, at current prices, 48,7% and 42,7% respectively to the value added of the broad agricultural sector. The contribution of the other sub-sectors was as follows: Ancillary production (milk and grape products processed on-farm) about 4,7%, fishing 4,2%, forestry 0,6% and others 3,2%.
Development policy aims at restructuring and upgrading the agricultural sector in order to be able to successfully cope with the conditions prevailing in the European Union and international competition and for exploitation of the opportunities created by European Union orientation and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Harmonization with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union and implementation of the Acquis Communautaire in general will be the basic objective as regards the agricultural sector, during the coming years.
Cyprus Rural Development Plan 2004-2006 - The Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment is preparing the Cyprus Rural Development Plan for 2004-2006, which will be co-financed by the European Agricultural Guarantee and Guidance Fund, Guarantee Section. The overall aim of the plan is to promote the sustainable development of rural areas by implementing an integrated set of coherent and consistent measures, taking account of existing structural and other weaknesses and utilizing potential opportunities and strengths. The strategic goals of the project are the improvement of competitiveness of the sector and the agricultural products, the strengthening of the socio economic conditions of rural areas, the protection of the environment and sustainable management of natural resources and the restructuring of rural development policy and enhancement of implementation capacity.
These goals are expected to be achieved through four major components (priority axis):
Priority Axis 1: Improvement of competitiveness and modernization of production and marketing of agricultural products. This pillar revolves around the conventional approach to development through investment in production, processing and marketing but also focuses on the establishment of efficient producer groups, on professional development of young farmers and on the provisions of adequate technical and managerial advisory services to the rural population. An early retirement scheme to facilitate the transfer of farm land to young people and a scheme concerning assistance to improve the viability of small-scale farming are also included in this axis.
Priority Axis 2: Protection and improvement of the environment and strengthening of the socio economic conditions of rural areas The second component consists of measures, which are designed to protect and improve the environment and to achieve important mountain policy goals.
In addition to conventional measures to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers, to relocate livestock farms and to foster the treatment and safe use of effluents, which are of horizontal nature, this component provides support for important activities related to the economy of mountain areas, including inter alia:
- Intensification of production, by reducing farm inputs, conserving indigenous breeds of animals and expanding the area under low-yielding local varieties of vines and dry land trees
- Forestry measures in agriculture, specifically directed towards the improvement of abandoned agricultural land
- Maintenance of the traditional landscape and restoration of particular cultural features, typical to the Cyprus countryside
- Organic production of both primary and processed agricultural products
This component also includes another scheme, which is designed to promote small-scale agro-processing, handicraft and craftsmanship and to revive the tradition of the countryside, e.g. through the reconstruction of old time agricultural production and processing facilities.
Priority Axis 3: Protection, development and sustainable management of forestry resources This pillar includes measures and focuses on the prevention of forestry fires, reforestation of damaged areas, forestation of non-agricultural land and development of private forestry as an important new activity in the rural areas, especially in the mountains. A scheme concerning improvement of harvesting process and marketing of forestry products is also included.
Priority Axis 4: Technical assistance and evaluation of the programme Finally, there is a technical assistance component focusing on monitoring and evaluation activities and the support of LEADER type activities by local action groups.
Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005