Rural Economy & Entrepreneurship – Cyprus

1. Agriculture

Popular crops of the Greek Cypriot agricultural sector include cereal grains, fodder crops, potatoes, grapes, carobs, vegetables, olives, strawberries and other open field fruits and vegetables. The bulk of the country’s citrus fruits, wheat, barley, carrots, tobacco, and green fodder is produced in the part of the island that is under Turkish occupation.

Larnaka & Lefkosia have the largest total production in temporary crops. Per individual production per product there are variations. For example, Lefkosia has almost the double production areas with cereal for the production of grain compared to the production in Larnaka. On the same manner, Larnaka has almost the double production in fodder crops compared to Lefkosia.


Due to its climate and characteristic geomorphology, water supply and diffuse water and soil pollution from agriculture are major concerns for Cyprus. Most of the underground geological water sources are “in a less than good” state. Increasing efficiency of irrigation water (accounting for 70% of the total water consumption) and adopting agricultural practices that reduce soil and water pollution from agrochemicals, are essential in order to improve the status of water bodies and biodiversity.

2. Livestock

Livestock, mostly pigs, goats, sheep, and poultry and livestock products account for about one-third of the island’s total agricultural production.

If we examined the period 1960 -2018, the animal population profiling by type would be:

          Poultry, pigs, sheep and goats are the animal raised in biggest numbers in Cyprus

          The number of animals has been fluctuating in the last ten years, with a clear tendency of increase only in cattle.

          In relation with the animal population in 1960, number of poultry, pigs, goats and cattle have increased, whereas number of sheep and lam has decreased.

The most common types of cattle housing in Cyprus were those where the animals are allowed to move freely (loose housing). Within the whole EU-28, Cyprus had the lowest number of farms with cattle (280) in 2010, and these holdings farmed 53,410 head of cattle.


Statistics on livestock use two different units of measurement, the number of head (number of animals) and the livestock unit (LSU), sometimes abbreviated as LU, which facilitates the aggregation of livestock from various species and age as per norm, via the use of specific numbers proved initially on the basis of the nutritional or feed requirement of each type of animal. The latter simplifies the comparison between different types.

3. Employment

The overall unemployment rate in the thinly populated (rural) areas of Cyprus has been rising steadily, reaching 15.9% in 2013, while youth unemployment has climbed to the unprecedented level of 38.8%. The lack of a skilled workforce for farms is evident and it is an inhibitor to growth for farms. From the total number of farm managers, only 2.6% is younger than 35 years old and just 5.7% have agricultural training.

Employment in the agricultural sector also showcased a decrease, falling to 15,806 persons in 2015 compared to 17,376 persons in 2014. The market share of employment in agriculture was 3.8% compared to the total labour force in 2015. Some decrease compared to 4.0% in 2014 and 4.3% in 2013. The value of change of breeding stock recorded a decrease compared to the previous year.

The sub-sector of crop and livestock production – which combines the sector of crop production and livestock production – has the largest number of workers. Regarding the numbers of the people working between 2013 and 2015 there is a slight decrease. It is surprising that in the holders and family members’ category between 2013 and 2015 the decrease for the female workers is minimal compared to the men workers. In forestry production happens the reverse. What is also surprising is that in the fishery section the number of women workers is really small compared to the number of the men workers. And also, in 2015 there were zero women employees.

According to the 2019 European Commission’s Country Report for Cyprus, on a macro-economic level, the following can be observed:

·         GDP Growth: After the 2018 crisis Cyprus experienced growth with real GDP growing over the first three quarters of the year at around 4 % on annual terms, one of the strongest growth rates in the euro area. Growth is increasingly driven by investment and private demand, while public consumption has also risen, partly due to the increase in wages and hiring by the government.

·         Net exports weigh negatively on growth. Net exports were a drag on economy in 2017, as rising exports were nevertheless outweighed by imports. In early 2018, exports have markedly risen, temporarily reversing the trend, but this strong performance was heavily influenced by the sizeable ship de-registration (which statistically increased the exports of goods). However, the net exports are expected to further weaken since the tourism sector, which has been the main driver of rising service sector exports in recent years, now faces challenges due to stronger competition from neighboring countries.

·         Inflation remains low at around 0.7%. Core inflation in Cyprus continued to fluctuate around zero, as falling prices in non-energy industrial goods were partly offset by the modest increase in the price of services.

·         The housing market rose in 2018 by 1.6% annually, according to the latest available data of the Central Bank. The supply of real estate is also higher in demand. Construction has steadily increased since mid-2016 as evidenced by the number of new properties.

·         The labor market conditions continued to improve thanks to robust economic growth. Employment grew and unemployment continued to fall, reaching 8.4% in 2018. Youth unemployment also remained higher than the EU average. Labour productivity and unit labour cost recovered only moderately since the crisis. As from 2014, labour productivity began to moderately increase. However, it has decreased between the last quarter of 2017 and the first half of 2018.

·         Public finances improved significantly after 2018. Since the start of the economic adjustment Programme in 2013, Cyprus’ fiscal position improved and the general government headline balance moved from a deficit of 5.1% of GDP in 2013 to a surplus of 1.8% of GDP in 2017. This improvement was the result of both budgetary consolidations implemented during the Programme years and favourable macroeconomic conditions.

·         Poverty and inequality decreased according to indicators, almost reaching the pre-crisis levels.


However, in the year of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a strong negative impact on the economy. As regards the European Union, based on seasonally adjusted figures, GDP volumes were significantly lower than the highest levels of the fourth quarter of 2019 (-15.1% in the euro area and -14.3% in the EU).

4. Quality

Quality products in Cyprus include the products under the Community scheme on organic agriculture (Reg. (EC) 834/2007), as well as the Community schemes covered by Regulation (EU) 1151/2012, and more specifically:

ü  Protected Designations of Origin (PDO),

ü  Protected Geographical Indications (PGI),

ü  Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG) and Optional Quality Terms.

To date, Cyprus has registered Kolokasi and Poulles Sotiros as well as seven (7) Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) of wine.

The Country has also registered four (4) Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) in the general sector (Rose Sweet of Agros, Geroskipou Almond Candy, Geroshipou delight and Paphos Sausage), as well as and four (4) in the wine sector, among them the Larnaka PGI wine. Additionally, there are two (2) certified Geographical Indications (GE) on alcoholic beverages, i.e Givania and Ouzo.

There are also products submitted for registration but not approved yet at the European level, i.e Haloumi cheese, submitted as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and three (3) meat products submitted as Protected Geographical Indications (PGI).


Additionally, there are six products submitted to be registered as Protected Geographical Indications at a national level. Among them, two products from the Larnaka district (Smilas Pasta and Tertzielloutkia – cookies with carob honey, submitted by the Larnaka Rural Women’s Association).

5. Fishery

The fishery sector in Cyprus contains the capture, aquaculture and processing/marketing sub-sectors. The capture fishery consists of an inshore fishery with a trawl fishery and a “multipurpose” fishery. Sport fishery is part of capture fishery sector. The Cyprus fishing fleet is assorted into three different categories, small scale coastal fishing vessels, bottom trawlers and purse seiners. Cyprus is supporting mainly passive fishing gears such as gillnets, bottom set nets and bottom longlines, targeting demersal species.

The authority responsible for fishery matters in Cyprus is the Department of Fishery and Marine Research (DFMR) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment. It is responsible for analysing the sector’s economic situation and for data collection and also responsible for the scientific assessment of fish stock and for analysing biological and fishing data of catch levels for key commercial species. Cyprus having accepted the European Fishing Common Policy established a Fishing Monitoring Centre.

Fisheries and aquaculture retain a small percentage in Cyprus’ overall gross domestic product (GDP), though they provide the important tourism industry with a significant source of seafood and revenues from sport. Of course, most fish are imported (see Figure 8.2). Nevertheless, that does not deminish the fisheries sector’s importance particularly in coastal areas.

Regarding its fishing fleet, Cyprus has a longstanding fisheries tradition and history. Despite its limited contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), the Cypriot fisheries sector holds primary significant socio-economic importance, particularly in coastal areas. In 2013, the Cypriot fishing fleet was comprised of 894 vessels, with a combined grossed tonnage of 3,500 and a total engine power of 39,000 kW. For the same year, the total volume of seafood landings achieved by the Cypriot fleet was around 900 tonnes, and its total value amounted to EUR 5.3 million.

Aquaculture is also a very important activity connected to fishery. As described above, it constitutes between 80% and 85%, in terms of both value and volume, of the total national fisheries production. At the same time, aquaculture delivers socio-economic benefits to the coastal communities by offering important employment that contributes to the local income.

The aquaculture sector has nine marine offshore farms and seven inland farms (located in Troodos mountain), as well as three marine fish hatcheries, one shrimp hatchery and two other inland units culturing ornamental fish. In 2013, 260 people were employed in the aquaculture and processing sectors. Fish production amounted to 5,400 tonnes and the total value of aquaculture products was EUR 33.5 million. The total employment in 2011 was 276 jobs in the aquaculture sector and 75 in the processing sector.

There are fishing shelters in Agia Triada, Paralimni, Agia Napa and Potamos Liopetri (in Famagusta area), Xylofagou, Ormidia, Xylotymbou, Larnaka and Zygi (in Larnaka area), Limassol old port and Akrotiri (in Limassol area), Agios Georgios Pegias and Pomos (in Pafos area), Kato Pyrgos (in Nicosia area).

Fishing activities in the intervention area of Larnaka are developed around the fishing shelters in Larnaka area are located in Xylofagou, Ormidia, Xylotymbou, Larnaka and Zygi.

Traditional Fishing Boat Trips are also organized at the fishing harbour of Zygi, as well as in dams, like Lefkara, Kalavasos, Dipotamos and Aradippou.


As regards aquaculture, seven private offshore cage farms are in operation in the Moni – Vasilikos – Zygi area and one in Liopetri (east of Larnaka). One private marine fish hatchery is also in operation in Liopetri. All marine fish farms are situated in the southern coast of the island.

6. Research

The Republic of Cyprus, as an island, and especially a country cut in half, is always trying to use in the best possible way its resources. The Directorate-General for European Programs, Coordination and Development (DG EPSA) via the National Roadmap for the European Research Area 2016-2020 has completed a very useful process in longevity. The process of mapping research infrastructure financed by public resources in order to use in the best possible way European Funds and Programmes and development and horizontal issues.

From the above research of DG EPSA, the Republic of Cyprus had a clearer view of the main research and academic Institutions of public purpose that have Research Infrastructures, such as:

·         The University of Cyprus

·         The Cyprus University of Technology

·         The Open University of Cyprus

·         The Cyprus Institute

·         The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics

·         The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research

·         The Department of Geological Survey

·         The Department of Meteorology

·         The Department of Veterinary Services

·         The State General Laboratory

·         The Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF)

·         The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI).

The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) belongs organizationally to the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, of the Republic of Cyprus. It was founded in 1962. The ARI was and is envisioned as a model center of knowledge and innovation, that will assist and lead Cyprus to a better future economically, environmentally and socially by strengthening rural development, guaranteeing the sustainable use of natural resources and improving the quality of life.

On that manner, the Agricultural Research Institute conducts researches and seminars aiming further the development of the primary sector, by solving problems at the farmer’s level and creating and trashing knowledge. These activities strengthen rural development and contribute to the adoption of a sustainable rural policy and innovative solutions.


The ARI has two divisions and eight sections: a) the Production Division which consists of the Sections of Plant Improvement, Fruit Trees, Vegetable Crops and Animal Production and b) the Scientific Support Division, which consists of the Sections of Rural Development, Natural Resources and Environment, Plant Protection and Agrobiotechnology. The Scientific Support Division also includes the Variety Examination Centre. The Institute is further equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories, a library carrying leading international agricultural journals, an herbarium and a gene bank.