Terra Kytheria - Sustainable Agriculture on Kythera
KIPA believes that the farming sector is not only the main pillar of social cohesion in Kythera, but also the backbone of the sustainable development of our island.
However, the high production costs, the low price of products as well as the difficulty in accessing markets, services, and training programmes due to isolation and remoteness, have caused a crisis in its agricultural sector. Less and less young people are working in agriculture and as a result the number of farmers has been decreasing, while their average age has been increasing.
In December 2019, after much discussion and encouragement from local producers, KIPA launched the preparatory phase of a new programme for sustainable rural development. The Foundation joined forces with the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA), with which it has been maintaining a strategic partnership since 2017 under the framework of ‘Kythera Trails’ programme. In this way, it became possible to transfer the knowledge from the large-scale agricultural programme implemented by MedINA in Lemnos, entitled Terra Lemnia, in collaboration with the Agricultural University of Athens, the University of the Aegean, and other organizations.
Terra Kytheria promotes the production of certified products of high quality and added value, with the aim to enhance the economic viability of small and medium-sized agricultural holdings and maintaining the rural character of the island. The programme encourages biodiversity-friendly practices, aligned with the natural and cultural heritage of Kythera, following a system of precision agriculture, adapted to local conditions.
The programme initially focuses on olive oil production. It includes ongoing scientific monitoring, the recording of agricultural practices and their effects, supervision by agronomists, and producers’ participation in data collection and management. At the same time, a marketing study will be carried out in order to form a roadmap for the promotion of products in markets.
The main activities of the programme include:
(a) co-creation and implementation of a farming practices protocol with the participation of farmers aiming at the certification of “traditional products friendly to the biodiversity and the local landscapes of Kythera”. The first protocol is related to olive growing.
(b) producers’ training in precision farming systems
(c) the use of smart agriculture tools (smartphone app, web geodatabase)
for monitoring production and the impacts of farming practices
(d) the scientific monitoring of on-farm biodiversity
(e) the certification of olive oil
(f) a marketing study for formulating a roadmap for the promotion of products in markets
The programme is expected to benefit those who participate in the initial producers’ group for the production of added value olive oil (members of cooperatives or others). Other farmers can also benefit by attending a seminar or by using the smart agriculture tools. The main phase of the programme started in March 2021 and will continue until October 2022.
This programme, provided that it receives the full support of the people of Kythera, will become a milestone for a better future for our island.