Apulia Presents EU with Draft Law to Tackle Xf

Apulian President Michele Emiliano met with the EU minister of agriculture to share strategies against the spread of Xylella fastidiosa bacterium and request the closure of infringement procedures.

Apulian President Michele Emiliano
By Ylenia Granitto
Aug. 18, 2016 10:27 UTC
Apulian President Michele Emiliano

The pres­i­dent of the Apulia Region, Michele Emiliano, with the coun­cilor for agri-food resources, Leonardo Di Gioia, met with the Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina in Rome last week with the aim to exam­ine and share com­mon strate­gies against the spread of Xylella fas­tidiosa bac­terium, as well to request the clo­sure of the infringe­ment pro­ce­dure recently opened by EU against Italy, with­out incur­ring any sanc­tions.

After this use­ful debate on the mea­sures to be imple­mented, we expect to receive details of the actions for the man­age­ment and con­tain­ment of the dis­ease.- Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina

During the ses­sion, a draft law pre­pared by the regional gov­ern­ment, DDL n. 147 of August 4, 2016 on the Management of bac­te­r­ial dis­eases by Xylella fas­tidiosa (Xf) in the Apulia Region ter­ri­tory,’ was pre­sented to the Minister.

The bill, that is sub­ject to the approval of the regional coun­cil and there­fore might be changed, includes mea­sures to han­dle the sit­u­a­tion while pre­serv­ing the Apulian olive trees. It rec­og­nizes the impor­tance of pre­vent­ing and reduc­ing the spread of Xf through key activ­i­ties includ­ing land mon­i­tor­ing, agri­cul­tural prac­tices for the con­trol of vec­tors, strength­en­ing of the plants and uproot­ing infected olive trees in case of new out­breaks. Special atten­tion is given to nurs­eries.

At the same time, the bill is intended to restore the eco­nomic and envi­ron­men­tal bal­ance in the affected areas and to pro­tect the land­scape. It pro­motes the recov­ery of dam­aged trees by plant­ing tol­er­ant olive vari­eties and alter­na­tive species, encour­ages the imple­men­ta­tion of for­est plans based on bio­engi­neer­ing tech­niques and land­scape ecol­ogy, and pro­motes the devel­op­ment of qual­ity agri-food sup­ply chains that respect the envi­ron­ment and nat­ural resources through the appli­ca­tion of prin­ci­ples of cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

The bill gives pri­or­ity to infra­struc­tures for the reuse of waste and the con­tain­ment of the use of ground water, and to mea­sures for the recov­ery of organic mat­ter in the soil, for organic farm­ing and for the pro­tec­tion and enhance­ment of bio­di­ver­sity. From the point of view of the land­scape, it pro­vides spe­cial care to safe­guard mon­u­men­tal olive trees and the restora­tion of dry stone walls. It also includes the cre­ation of a regional agency ded­i­cated to the oper­a­tional man­age­ment of Xf and to inno­va­tions in agri­cul­ture (ARXIA).

Both the Minister and the gov­er­nor of Apulia were sat­is­fied with the meet­ing. After this use­ful debate on the mea­sures to be imple­mented, we expect to receive in the next few days by the Region details of the oper­a­tional actions con­ducted in the ter­ri­tory for the man­age­ment and con­tain­ment of the dis­ease,” said Minister Martina. For us, the pri­or­ity of the insti­tu­tional bod­ies involved in the emer­gency man­age­ment is to inter­vene in the most effec­tive and prompt way.”

Nevertheless, accord­ing to Emiliano, the dis­ease can no longer be con­sid­ered an emer­gency, but rather endemic. This aspect has to be clear to the European Union and our coun­try. It must be man­aged as a seri­ous plant dis­ease, not only con­tained,” he pointed out, since an emer­gency would jus­tify extra mea­sures and spe­cial laws, with the guid­ance of a Commissioner, while an acknowl­edg­ment of the endemic pres­ence of the bac­terium would make room for the use of ordi­nary tools.

Meanwhile, in recent days an exper­i­men­tal field autho­rized by the Apulia Region was set up by Coldiretti Lecce, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with uni­ver­si­ties and research cen­ters of the region. About 200 plants of young olive trees of 16 dif­fer­ent vari­eties were planted in Acquarica del Capo, in the province of Lecce, in a plot of 5 acres in which there are already cen­turies-old olive trees of Ogliarola infected by Xf. Plants of Leccino, Ottobratico, Nocellare Belice, Cassanese, Giarraffa, Biancolilla, Ogliarola, Cipressino, Carolea, Frantoio, and Itrana Roggianella will be sub­ject to con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing in the field and in the lab­o­ra­tory to test the response to the bac­terium.

Since non-native vari­eties such as Leccino were found to be tol­er­ant to bac­terium, the con­cern by many is that this may lead to a replace­ment of tra­di­tional olive grow­ing her­itage with dif­fer­ent tol­er­ant vari­eties and other hor­ti­cul­tural crops like grapes, with a propen­sity to inten­sive and super inten­sive farm­ing.

Currently, the pres­ence of Xf has been reported in other European coun­tries. Four infected plants were detected in Switzerland at the end of 2015, although the news came to light only in recent days, and plants in Germany were destroyed along with other non-infected plants found in the same area.


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