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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Facing the challenge of rural areas ]

Facing the challenge of rural areas

EU OFFICIALS gathered in Limassol yesterday for the Rural Development Conference, titled ‘Europe’s rural areas in action: facing the challenges of tomorrow’. The conference, which took place at the Grand Resort in Limassol, brought together Ministers, Commissioners, farmers, NGOs, officials and other stakeholders providing a venue for taking stock of the current policy and thinking whether it needs reform.

“Most of us are only too well aware that a policy runs partly on money. But it also runs on good ideas and experience. Ideas have the advantage that, if you share them around, their total value increases. They also tend to multiply. And experience helps us grow ideas into success stories,” said EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mariann Fischer Boel.

Boel highlighted the need to reinforce current targets such as raising the competitiveness of the farming and forestry sectors, preserving the countryside’s natural environment and diversifying rural economies to encourage people to continue living in villages.

“If people in rural areas can’t lead normal lives – if they have to drive 50km to get to a nursery school – then many of them will go and lead normal lives in towns and cities instead. And if this process takes the population of a given rural community below a certain critical mass, the community collapses. What was once a ‘community’ then becomes a ‘problem’,” Boel explained.

The Commissioner also referred to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ‘Health Check’, which identifies the four main challenges in this policy sector. These include the need to combat and adapt to climate change, better water management, the need to make good use of the potential of bioenergy and the need to protect biodiversity.

Other speakers included the Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou, and the Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment, Michalis Polynikis. Polynikis referred to the recent approval by the Council of Agriculture Ministers of Cyprus’ request to give €67.5 million in drought compensation to farmers from state funds.

“We believe this support to our farmers was necessary as we are already facing the environmental and social problems caused by this unprecedented water shortage,” Polynikis said.

The conference also hosted the launch of an EU policy innovation – the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD). The Network will bring together policymakers, administrators, academics and other key actors in the area of rural development from across the EU, enabling them to share ideas, information and experience.

“I strongly believe that the European Network for Rural Development will set off chain reactions of ideas and will quickly prove its worth in the policy-making process,” Boel said.


(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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