Crop production was by far the most important component of agriculture. In 1988 it contributed 71 percent of total value added in agriculture, compared with 19 percent for livestock. Ancillary production contributed 6 percent; the shares of fishing and forestry were 3 and 1 percent, respectively.
A wide range of crops were grown on Cyprus. Cereals (wheat and barley), legumes, vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes), fruit and other tree crops (almonds, apples, bananas, carobs, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, melons, olives, oranges, and peaches).
Crops were rainfed or irrigated. Wheat and barley were rainfed or dryland crops, as were carobs, olives, fodder, and wine grapes. Crops that required irrigation included vegetables, citrus fruits, deciduous fruits, bananas, and table grapes. These irrigated crops accounted for half of agricultural production.
Cereals, mainly wheat and barley, grew mostly on the Mesaoria, the island's central plain. Production fluctuated widely, depending on rainfall. Wheat's importance relative to barley declined steadily during the 1980s, the result of greater subsidies paid for the raising of barley. Despite the subsidies and a doubling of barley production, only part of the domestic need for cereals was met, and substantial imports were necessary.
Market vegetables grew in many areas around the island. The potato was the most important of these crops, far outstripping tomatoes, carrots, water and sweet melons, cucumbers, and others in both weight and value. In fact, the potato was the most important agricultural product in the late 1980s, during which more than 80 percent of its production was exported. In 1987 the potato earned 10 percent of the total value of domestic exports, more than any other item except clothing. Because the Cypriot potato was harvested twice, in winter and in early spring, it had a competitive advantage in the European market. Britain was the largest consumer. A shortage of suitable land and a need for irrigation meant that the potato's importance for Cypriot agriculture would likely decline in the 1990s, but it would remain one of the sector's main supports.
Citrus production was another irrigated crop that was important for exports; about 75 percent of production was consumed abroad. Groves of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and tangerines were located along the coasts. Unlike potato production, that of citrus fruits was expected to expand greatly in the 1990s, and one estimate foresaw a yield of 350,000 tons by the turn of the century, compared with 169,000 tons in 1989.
Viniculture and the production of wine have been major economic activities for centuries in Cyprus. Most vineyards are located in the southwestern part of the island on the slopes of the Troodos Mountains in the Paphos district and in hilly areas in the Limassol district. Some grapes were grown for table consumption, but about four-fifths of the harvest was used for wine, two-thirds of it exported. In 1989 the grape harvest amounted to 212,000 tons, and wine production was 34.1 million liters. The most commonly grown grapes were the xymisteria and mavro varieties. Systematic efforts were undertaken by the government to improve the quality of Cypriot grapes, and different kinds of wine were manufactured to increase exports, mainly to Europe.
Deciduous tree crops common to temperate climates, including olives, apples, pears, peaches, carobs, and cherries, were also grown. These crops required some cool weather during the year, and the orchards were almost entirely in mountainous areas. Almond trees, which do not need cool weather, were widespread on the plains. Olives were easily the most important export item of these tree crops.
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