Terra Kytheria aspires to spark the revitalization of the agri-food sector of Kythera Island, Greece. At the heart of the programme lies a novel biodiversity-friendly farming and certification system, which will empower olive growers and support the production of high-quality, added-value olive oil.
Farming on Kythera is in crisis, due to high production cost, low farm gate prices, remoteness from markets and services as well as out-migration of young people, among other stressors. Insularity greatly exacerbates those issues. The objective of this programme is not only the conservation of on-farm biodiversity and agricultural landscapes, but also enabling viable and sustainable livelihoods.
Terra Kytheria was launched in 2021, as an upscaling project of Terra Lemnia, in partnership with the Kytherian Foundation for Culture & Development (KIPA). A MoU between the two organizations was signed in February 2021, building on the ongoing fruitful collaboration in the framework of Kythera Trails.
The project team has also nurtured the collaboration of all key local stakeholders from the get-go, most importantly both farmers’ cooperatives, with the aim of amplifying the outreach. As a result, 34 olive oil producers are currently participating at the project, beyond initial expectations.
The interdisciplinary project team has combined the expertise of various affiliated institutions. Researchers from the University of the Aegean and the University of Patras have carried out fieldwork on biodiversity identification and monitoring, to provide scientific evidence concerning the certification. At the same time, the management standard for Kytherian olive groves has been developed (under MedINA’s certification scheme ‘Agricultural Tradition and Biodiversity’), while the online geodatabase and smartphone app have been delivered to help farmers and facilitate certification.
Marketing of the olive oil is pivotal. Therefore, the experts of AK & P have prepared the marketing road map, based on their rapid assessment, which will be presented to the local community in the beginning of 2022.
On the side, the project has been collaborating with the Agricultural University of Athens in devising a road map for PDO certification and collecting additional data from the olive groves with the use of drones. The Terra Kytheria team has been actively seeking further collaborations, with the aim of expanding the scope and depth of the project.