South Cyprus’ Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis has announced measures worth 35 million euros aimed at supporting sheep and goat farmers for the next three years following Cyprus’ official application to register halloumi/hellim as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
“For the product to be called halloumi, the goats and sheep’s milk, or a combination, needs to be more than the amount of cow milk. Due to the circumstances on our island however, with coordinated efforts, we have received a 10 year adjustment period from the European Commission,” Kouyialis said.
“Bearing in mind that halloumi is the main product we export, registering it as a PDO strengthens our rural economy and the economy of the country as a whole,” he added.
However, the Pancyprian Organisation of Cattle Farmers (POCF) general manager Nicos Papakyriakou told the ‘Cyprus Mail’ that the decision to include the word ‘hellim’ was a “criminal mistake that would give Turkish Cypriot producers the upper hand”.
This is because Greek Cypriot producers face a shortage in sheep and goats milk “and even though it is only 20% of the industry, it is not enough. We only have the availability for about four months,” Papakyriakou said while Turkish Cypriots do not face such shortages.
“This application is destructive. The minister will go home in two years but we will still be here and the damage to our industry will be forever.”
Although Turkish Cypriots produce hellim, Papakyriakou said that they are small quantities which are exported mainly to the Middle East and the fact that they would be allowed to use the same ports as Greek Cypriots makes matters even worse.
Hellim production in the TRNC makes up about 25% of its exports.
The Association of Cyprus Cheesemakers on the other hand hailed the move as a success. “It is a really a very important step,” leader Giorgos Petrou told CyBC.
“If we do not manage to increase the sheep and goats milk production and more specifically triple it then maybe this will not be a success,” he said.