Agriculture continues to be a vital sector of the economy of Cyprus, despite its gradual decrease due to the development of other sectors such as tourism and services, and the difficulties which have emerged as a result of the intensive competitive environment. Nowadays the importance of agriculture is not only defined by financial indicators, but also by the fact that it has a multi-functional role. In addition to the production of food, it contributes significantly to the preservation of the environment and provides the means for improving and protecting life in the countryside.
During the period 1960-1974, the agricultural sector expanded rapidly, but in 1974 it was discontinued by the Turkish invasion, which resulted in the occupation of 36,2% of the territory of Cyprus. More specifically, the Turkish forces occupied the area, which produced 46% of crop production and 79% of citrus, 68% of cereals, 100% of tobacco, 86% of carobs and 65% of green fodders. Also, 45% of livestock production was from this area.
Despite the obligatory concentration of the 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-1974 production levels.
Contribution of the Primary Sector to the GDP and Employment
Agriculture and fisheries contributed 2,3% to GVA in 2012 and provided employment to 7,5% of the working population. Principal crops are potatoes, citrus, other vegetables, olives and grapes. Livestock farming is mainly in cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry. Fish production derives from sea fishery (inshore and trawl fishery), marine aquaculture (fish, fry and shrimp) and island waters aquaculture (trout).
Exports of raw agricultural products constituted 13,5% of total domestic exports in 2012.
The livestock sector contributes approximately 46% of the agricultural gross output and consists of dairy cattle, sheep and goats, swine and poultry. Dairy cattle, swine and poultry farms are relatively large units situated around urban areas, while sheep and goat farms are scattered throughout the country and are operating under semi-intensive or free farming systems. The development of livestock production has been given great attention, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Agricultural and Rural Development
The main mission of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) is the development of the agricultural sector by enhancing training and technical services of farmers and the planning and implementation of developmental programs.
Thus, current programs aim not only in increasing the production but also in enhancing the quality and the competitiveness of agricultural products in local and international markets, as well as the better utilization of available resources and production factors. Special emphasis is given to the modernization of agricultural holdings and the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation.
To this extent the DoA seeks in boosting the knowledge, education and training of our rural world on the latest technological developments in the agricultural sector, as well as on issues of harmonization of Cyprus’ agriculture with the European acquis.
In the above context, the DoA is implementing the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, while it promotes the implementation of the New Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is an ambitious project, aiming at revitalizing the rural economy of Cyprus, both in the short and long-term future.
Through the implementation of the terms of the Rural Development Programme, the development and improvement of the production is promoted, as well as the modernization of the production units and the creation of viable agricultural holdings with new goals, such as the improvement of the food quality and security, the protection of the environment and the landscape and the improvement of the quality of life in rural areas.
For further information and updates, please refer to: www.moa.gov.cy/da