The PDO status of halloumi, the protection of Akamas peninsula, waste management and animal welfare are among her immediate priorities, the new Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, Maria Panayiotou, said during a handover ceremony, which took place on Wednesday at the Ministry, in Nicosia. In a Cabinet reshuffle, announced on Monday, President of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides appointed Panayiotou, who served so far as Commissioner for the Environment, as Minister of Agriculture. Outgoing Minister Petros Xenophontos, emphasized that PDO halloumi must be preserved, adding that an experts’ report on Akamas peninsula will be submitted within the month.

“Strengthening the primary sector of our country, investing in the quality and delivery of Cypriot agricultural products and protecting the environment are priorities in the governance programme for which I will work with zeal, responsibility, efficiency and determination,” stressed Panayiotou.

She then underlined that halloumi cheese as a protected designation of origin (PDO), the protection and sustainable management of Akamas peninsula, proper waste management and animal welfare are among her immediate priorities. These priorities, she said, along with the development of the circular economy, the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity, fire prevention, tackling climate change and mitigating its effects, are areas on which she will work “tirelessly and with dedication to get positive results.”

Speaking on the issue of halloumi, the outgoing Minister, Petros Xenophontos, welcomed “the determination of all stakeholders involved, who support halloumi as a PDO and which provides added value to our national product”, noting it is imperative to safeguard it.

Referring to the issue of Akamas peninsula, where it all ongoing construction of infrastructure was temporarily halted after public outcry over its environmental impact, Xenophontos pointed out that problems were identified in the area, adding that experts (three professors of the National Technical University of Athens and a representative of the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber) were called in. As he said, the experts will submit their report and recommendations within the month, so that the restoration projects can be completed with the least possible environmental impact.

On his part, Andreas Gregoriou, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, thanked the outgoing Minister, Petros Xenophontos, for his “short but productive tenure”, and spoke of his ”modesty, industriousness, dignity, trust and efficiency.”

Afterwards, he welcomed the new Minister of Agriculture, Maria Panayiotou, adding that she has created a new fact. “For the first time in the history of the Republic of Cyprus, we have a woman as Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment. That in itself creates a lot of expectations,” he pointed out.

Leave a Reply