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Minister discusses measures to deal with impact of drought on agriculture at EU Council

Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Dr Maria Panayiotou, has briefed EU counterparts on the impact of the prolonged drought in Cyprus on agriculture.

She addressed the Agriculture and Fisheries Council held in Brussels on 27 May. Following the meeting, Cyprus has begun working in cooperation with the European Commission and the MED9 countries in order to formulate measures.

According to a statement, during the discussion, Dr Panayiotou called on the Commission to formulate measures to address the situation, in order to safeguard current and future food production in Cyprus, as well as to allow the necessary flexibility to adapt Common Agricultural Policy measures to support Cypriot farmers.

Speaking before the Council, Panayiotou noted that "we have in time informed our farmers that this year we will have an average 33.7% reduction in the amount of water (available) for irrigation purposes", and that the water scarcity "creates a number of problems for production, but also for the farmers themselves".

She recalled that "our dams’ water reserves are at 44%, while last year at the same period they were at 66%.

According to the statement after the conclusion of the meeting, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, Romania, the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Poland and Denmark expressed their solidarity with Cyprus.

The Commission invited the Cypriot authorities to begin a dialogue on the issue. Cyprus will start to develop a framework of potential measures in cooperation with the Member States participating in the MED9 group, so that these measures respond to the needs of Member States facing common problems and can be effectively implemented without delay.

The main item on the agenda of the meeting was the CAP crisis fund. Panayiotou said that Cypriot farmers ask for faster payments of compensation through the fund.

Panayiotou also referred to the joint communiqué adopted by the MED9 which proposes the use of all available funds of the Multiannual Financial Framework of the CAP, as well as the possibility of developing crisis response measures with funding up to 2% of the financial envelope of the Strategic Plan.

The Cypriot Minister called on the Commission to work towards the acceleration of the adoption of new technologies, stronger funding for investments in new technologies, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises, and to proceed with the creation of a network to strengthen cooperation between Member States facing common problems.

These suggestions, Panayiotou said in her statement before the meeting, have been submitted to the Commission and have been "well received".

The other main topic on the agenda was the situation in agricultural markets, with Panayiotou noting that the increased cost of production for farmers is a problem that Cypriot farmers face due to the fact that Cyprus is an island state, stressing that "it is necessary for our farmers to receive support in this area so that they can remain viable and competitive" at EU level.

During the discussion in the Council, the minister stressed the need for short, medium and long-term measures to enhance resilience and competitiveness of agriculture in the EU.

(Source: CNA)

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