European Union assistance is being provided to develop agricultural production and rural areas through what is known as the Rural Development Sector Programme. So far, the programme, totalling more than €40 million, covers a series of rural development and community development grant schemes, as well as guidance to help prepare for the future adoption of EU rules and regulations, including training to farmers to help improve animal and crop husbandry techniques.
Four rural development grant schemes totalling €15.5 million have been financed to date. Target areas of the schemes include: introduction of new technologies in dairy production and processing, crop and horticultural production; development of rural tourism, including promotion of small-scale tourism activities; and improved farm hygiene, animal welfare and environmental management. By end 2015, 209 projects were finalised under the four schemes.
Ongoing grant scheme projects include support to individual farmers, companies and NGOs for a mix of agricultural machinery and materials, training and advisory services, farm certification, solar energy, greenhouse construction, irrigation equipment, support to the olive, citrus and pomegranate sectors, and the preservation of cultural heritage (e.g. training in handicraft lacework and specialist food production).
EU funded support to the Rural Development Sector Programme between 2006-2013
Additionally, a series of capacity building projects are being implemented in the agricultural sector. These include the following: • Animal Disease Eradication Programme – to implement control and eradication measures for priority animal diseases and to strengthen the capacities of the veterinary services to EU requirements. • Development of Metrology Capacity – to improve veterinary and plant health laboratory analytical services and provide modern equipment to support the analysis of foodstuffs and products to EU food safety standards. • Farm Advisory Services – for the formulation of a long-term strategy and development of the capacity to deliver services. • Long-term strategy development and capacity building for the dairy sector. • Animal Identification System – for the introduction of a new animal registration and identification system in accordance with EU requirements. • Animal-By-Products (ABP) Programme – design and implementation of a system and provision of equipment to store, transport and process high risk ABP material.