The experience from Cyprus was gained over the period 1960 with independence to 1970, with various projects:
- The FAO Cyprus Water Planning project of 1969 to 1972 which planned the use of water resources and was fully implemented over a 25 year period except for areas in northern Cyprus that are North of the Green Line (ceasefire line of 1974).
- The Pitsilia Integrated Rural Development Project prepared by the World Bank/FAO Cooperation Programme and Republic of Cyprus and implemented in 1980’s.(World Bank Loan 1483-CY, Appraisal Report 159-CY)
- Various other programmes including the River Valleys Project, Cyprus, EU Life 1999 prepared but not funded.
The experience leads to the conclusion that agriculture cannot achieve the development of rural areas alone, but needs to be integrates in regional projects which draw from the agricultural sector, and diversify employment and income.
In the EU LIFE project above a “General Model for Sustainable Development in Rural Areas” was developed but unfortunately not tested for lack of funding and state support. Its central feature is the “Reduced Government Dependence –Self Help Model”, which harnesses and coordinates the public sector role in development, and supplements by self help. Rural Communities, NGOs , cooperative credit institutions, city dwellers, overseas emigrants from the area, and trade unions all cooperative to create initiatives for the development of the region or community, in coordinated cooperation with the state but also separately from the state through local initiatives. For example:
- Investment in small scale tourist facilities.
- Registration of a brand names or names for processed agricultural products by communities or NGO’s, facilitate market penetration through identity, organize festivals and activities to attract visitors and urban and overseas former residents, and improve facilities in the communities.
- Facilitate and organize education in agricultural production, processing of local products, marketing and in nutrition in schools and in the communities.
- Develop cooperatives or small loan financial institutions to fund local initiatives.
- Establish links with people who have migrated or emigrated from the communities, to establish a basis for expanding the market.
- Encourage local initiatives and coordination of state organizations, and the private sector in the communities.
Though the ideas were developed for the Mediterranean they are transferable and can be adapted to other regions, where there are strong communities and where education among the population has progressed, and communities are well organized. Furthermore exchange of knowledge on what works is important and should be a matter for research.