The island of Kythera in Greece, also known as Tsirigo by the locals, lies at the crossroads of 3 seas and is known as the birthplace of the Goddess Aphrodite. Our island is one of the largest islands in Greece and is characterised by a large number of small settlements, with a total population of around 4000. Our greatest expectation is to keep our youth in the area, by creating the appropriate conditions for young and active people to live and work on the island. Our local economy is based predominantly on tourism and agriculture but also other areas such as trades and services, including education and health. We would like to promote agricultural and environmental sustainability on the island by introducing new technologies. The goal is to enhance the production of local products, mainly olive-oil production, honey, as well as aromatic and medicinal plants, while promoting and preserving Kythera’s landscapes, ecosystems and biodiversity. We also want to increase quality tourism, by supporting alternative forms of tourism, through the promotion of cultural heritage, the natural beauty of the island as well as the local products. Our local community is very strong with a well-preserved local identity consisting of various local associations and organisations. Through our participation in the Smart Rural 21 project we are hoping to gain new ideas and inspiration for developing a strategic plan for implementing smart village approaches.
Village strategy :
Branding Kythera’s agricultural production
Kythera’s public benefit programme ’Terra Kytheria’ has developed its own logo whose colours represent the various local products of the island, in the shades of land and sea.
The programme, whose main aim is Kythera’s sustainable rural development, launches promotional activities with olive oil and will consequently expand to other products in order to strengthen producers and the sustainable utilisation of the island’s agricultural heritage. The underlying idea is that active cooperation between producers and institutions can give a new productive perspective to Kythera.
’Terra Kytheria’ has been running for a year. It is based on a system of cultivation and certification, which is adapted to local methods and preserves the biodiversity and traditional rural landscapes of the island.
Kythera’s smart actions
This covered key aspects of local community engagement through cultivating trust and a results-driven approach.
Introducing ’smart farming’ tools to olive growers
In the aim of empowering olive oil producers in Kythera, University of the Aegean has developed two new tools to directly assist them in controlling, adapting and managing their crop easily and quickly and facilitating and simplifying the product certification process.
The tools were introduced to producers through a series of online workshops and are freely available via the FarmGeoBalance Kythera web application. The initiative is part of the ’Terra Kytheria’ public benefit programme whose aim is to strengthen olive oil production on the island.
Strengthening olive growers in Kythera
A public benefit programme – ’Terra Kytheria’ – aiming to strengthen and promote olive oil production was launched in April 2021 with an informational meeting for farmers.
The programme involves five steps that producers need to follow in order to highlight the qualities of the local product, activating the comparative advantages of the island, such as the local identity and the mild cultivation methods. It further includes the use of specific tools that will facilitate the monitoring of agricultural holdings by the producers themselves.
Pursuing green development
The Kythera municipality plans to create an Energy Community on the island in an effort to both cut costs and contribute to the country’s energy transition.
The first phase of the project will involve municipality members, while the Community will expand to local businesses and citizens at a later stage.
Kythera on the path to sustainable micro-mobility
The Kythera municipality has applied to be included in a system of automatic rental of electric bicycles, which would allow residents and visitors to pick up and use a bike for as long as they wish, returning it to one of the parking lots within the municipality.
The project, submitted to the Centre for Renewable Energy Sources, would provide for the supply, installation, configuration and operation of the electric bicycles system, including all the required equipment, software and services for its implementation.
In the aim of facilitating autonomous access to the sea of people with mobility impairment or limited mobility – such as the elderly, pregnant women, people with reduced vision – the Kythera municipality has signed a contract for the installation of non-permanent infrastructure on three beaches.
These new installations bring the total of island ‘seatracks’ to four, with a correct geographical distribution (north, centre, south).
Energy upgrading of school buildings
Good news for two Kythera schools and one kindergarten: their buildings are about to be renovated and improved by at least two categories of energy efficiency.
The funding approved by the municipality envisages improvements such as replacing of frames, applying thermal insulation system in building shells, and upgrading of heating and cooling systems.
Smart Rural Journey
Follow along with our Village Roadmap here :
Kythera developed a feedback and scientifically documented precision farming and certification system for olive cultivation. Such extended use of smart farming solutions is expected to support agricultural and environmental sustainability on the island, enhancing the production of local products, mainly olive-oil production. It will also provide complementary expertise to the ‘Terra Kytheria’ programme which supports the revitalisation of the island’s primary sector.
Step 1/5 : Identification of actors and testing fields
Identification of local actors (olive oil producers) and testing fields where demos and data collection with smart farming technologies take place. A total of 12 fields were geolocated across the island. Under the umbrella of the existing agricultural associations improving collaboration between the producers.
Step 2/5 : Data collection to enrich the “Terra Kytheria” database
Both aerial and on-field data collection was organised. Monitoring with the use of drones and satellite imagery, and mapping of the identified 12 Kytherian olive fields. Collection of basic reflectance information from plant canopies and soil as well as classic spectral vegetative index data.
Step 3/5 : Introduction of new technologies in agriculture and smart farming solutions
Enhanced knowledge transfer on new/smart farming technologies and sustainable agricultural systems with a series of training courses dedicated to local farmers.
Step 4/5 : Preparatory work to certify the locally produced olive-oil with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label
Support actions and develop the framework for certifying the locally produced olive-oil with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label in order to gain an added value, higher market price and to protect the name of the producers’ product.
9th Smart Rural Café, Kythera (8 April 2022)
Aikaterini Kasimati (Agricultural University of Athens) and Rigas Zafeiriou (Kytherian Foundation for Culture & Development) talk about how Kythera Island has been transforming into a full-fledged adventure destination by employing an integrated approach, including Terra Kythera brand and Kytherian Olive oil as PDO, the island’s sustainable tourism development, the INCREAte approach and innovations (culture and nature) and more…
Kytherian olive grove data collection
Data collection from the island’s olive groves is carried out within the Smart Rural 21 project and aims to expand the expertise of the ’Terra Kytheria’ programme which promotes the local olive oil, supports producers and the economic and social revitalisation of the primary sector of Kythera.