By Evie Andreou
FOR RURAL areas, generating income is always a challenge, but a new project aims to promote regional local produce to boost sustainable development and profit.
Yioula Papakyriacou, director of the non-governmental-organisation Troodos Network of Thematic Centres, is spearheading a pilot project in the wine-producing villages which she believes can help boost community interaction, personal advancement and become profitable.
Steering away from the traditional grape juice products, like palouze and soudjoukko, villagers – mostly women – have participated in workshops on the healing properties of wine and were also taught how to make other products like soap made of wine.
“We might be the only country that manufactured wine soap; several participants have expressed the interest to do this on a professional level,” Papakyriacou said.
Based on the Triple Bottom Line sustainability framework (TBL), a business framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance – social, environmental and financial – the NGO undertook the training of people living in wine producing areas and elsewhere on how to sustainably make good use of their local products to generate income, a process which also helps strengthen community bonds.
Wine soap workshops were implemented as a way of getting people together and giving them another skill, which can be developed into a micro business.
“The acquisition of new skills also leads to a higher self-esteem and self-appreciation, as it empowers people, Papakyriacou said.
Learning new ways of promoting ones skills is also a way of attracting tourism in the area, she said.
The NGO have also organised a series of wine and gastronomy tours throughout the region so that visitors could taste the local delicacies and wines and walk around the village, visiting local businesses like coffee shops and restaurants.
Papakyriacou said that the NGO has a permanent workshop in Vouni which people can visit and learn more about the various workshops they organise.
In addition to wine, the NGO is planning workshops on the utilisation of roses, lavender and hazelnuts.
Staying true to the TBL philosophy, the NGO has also started the implementation of the three year Use Wine programme launched last October in Limassol, where ten partners from eight EU countries (Cyprus, France, UK, Portugal, Austria, Poland, Romania and Spain) have joined forces to deliver a sustainability proposition to the wine industry.
The idea is to train local wine producers to combine production with sustainability. According to the questionnaires the NGO received from local businesses, wine producers in Cyprus fall behind when it comes to environment friendly practices, but help is on the way.
“Through this project we are going to train wine producers to use various methods of generating energy like photovoltaics,” Papakyriacou said.
She added that workshops are expected to begin in October.
By Evie Andreou