Italy Approves €300M Fund to Fight Xylella

Better late than never, the Italian government will fund a €300 million-plan to fight Xylella fastidiosa through eradication, replanting, research and restoration.
Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova
Jan. 31, 2020 10:19 UTC
Paolo DeAndreis
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The ongo­ing strug­gle against the Xylella fas­tidiosa infec­tion in the Puglia region of Italy may have reached a turn­ing point.

On January 29, the Conferenza Stato-Regioni approved a plan to deploy €300 mil­lion ($332 mil­lion) over the next two years both as com­pen­sa­tion for farm­ers and as projects to restore the olive oil pro­duc­tion capac­ity of the region while also con­tain­ing the spread­ing of the dis­ease.

We need a swift and effi­cient bureau­cracy to let farm­ers recon­struct their future.- Savino Muraglia, Coldiretti pres­i­dent for Puglia

Those funds were strongly asked for by local author­i­ties and farm­ers and they are part of what is regarded as an extra­or­di­nary inter­ven­tion plan” designed by the Ministry of Agriculture in the last few months.

To restore olive farm­ing and agri­cul­ture, we need farm­ers who can invest, sus­tain replant­ing, diver­sify their groves and closely work with the trans­for­ma­tion indus­try and the mar­ket­ing firms,” Teresa Bellanova, the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, said.

See Also:Xylella fas­tidiosa News

Most of those funds will be assigned to the olive farm­ers who suf­fered the infec­tion and lost many of their trees across an area of 750,000 hectares (1.85 mil­lion acres).

The regional gov­ern­ment had asked all of the funds to be directed to the farm­ers, but the cen­tral gov­ern­ment decided to also take into account both sci­en­tific research and the expenses needed for the projects aimed at the restora­tion of the olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The affected trees removed dur­ing these last few years and all the nearby olive groves that had to be destroyed to slow down the spread­ing of the infec­tion will be replaced by dif­fer­ent olive trees vari­eties, those that are con­sid­ered immune to the Xylella bac­te­ria.

A sub­stan­tial lack of coor­di­na­tion and agree­ment among sev­eral dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions in Italy, both at cen­tral and local lev­els, is widely believed to con­sti­tute the main cause for the delay in the inter­ven­tion against Xylella.

Coldiretti, the farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion, has recently stressed that since 2013, when Xylella fas­tidiosa was found in an olive tree in Gallipoli, the dis­ease has spread while no effi­cient strat­egy was applied to con­tain the bac­te­ria. Now Xylella has gone north, from Lecce to Brindisi and Taranto.”

Now, the Puglia region has to take action and make up for those delays,” Coldiretti pres­i­dent for Puglia, Savino Muraglia, said. We need a swift and effi­cient bureau­cracy to let farm­ers recon­struct their future.”

Both cen­tral and local gov­ern­ment offi­cials, as well as farm­ers, now stress the impor­tance of mov­ing quickly and exe­cut­ing the plan.

In the last few months, new wor­ry­ing evi­dence of the spread of the dis­ease has been found in France, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) admits there is not a sin­gle bul­let pol­icy that can con­tain Xylella, but there are a num­ber of mea­sures that local and cen­tral gov­ern­ments can adopt to con­tain the spread­ing.


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