A study has shown that there are profits to be made by exporting vegetables such as okra and aromatic herbs to Europe.
According to a study by the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) entitled “Research into the prospects for the production and supply of vegetables”, there is an opportunity for Cyprus to profit from exporting okra and aromatic herbs which are popular in the EU market and are often imported from countries such as Israel and Morocco.
Exports of thyme in 2012 were up 398% over 2007-2009, tarragon recorded an increase of 81%, rosemary an increase of 40% and anise 7%.
The study examined the price of vegetables sold in supermarkets in the UK, Germany, Greece and Poland (Warsaw), in order to provide guidelines for farmers as to prospects some of these products could have in those countries. Okra imported from Thailand and sold in the UK, costs €5.22 per kilo. In 2012, 824 tonnes of okra were exported, 457 out of which were exported to the UK.
According to the researchers the production price of okra in 2012 in Cyprus amounted to just €1.45, which indicates it can be exported to the UK and Cyprus farmers would still make a healthy profit. Medicinal and aromatic plants are being exported to 14 countries in the EU and to seven non-EU countries. With the exception of parsley, anise, mint and fenugreek quantities of other exported aromatic plants do not exceed 100 tonnes, as many are exported dry.
Apart from the UK market, Germany market is in a good position to accept Cypriot aromatic plants as it already imports them from Israel and Morocco.
Aromatic plants are sold in the German market both in pots and in small packages. The pots are priced between €0.95 for oregano, coriander, sage, basil and thyme and €1.29 and €1.79 for organic herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme and chives.
The most expensive herbs are coriander, oregano and rosemary imported from Israel (€1.29 for 15g).
According to the study similar Cyprus varieties could be successfully exported including coriander, parsley, anise, mint, rocket, basil, rosemary (lasmari) thyme, oregano and rosemary. Fenugreek, chervils, marjoram, sorrel, lemon balm, chives, fennel and other plants produced in Cyprus could also be exported.