Urgent Need to Increase Water Supply in Italy, Producers Warn

Italia Olivicola warned that the hot and dry summer is already expected to have negative repercussions on the yield of the coming harvest.
Aug. 18, 2021
Ephantus Mukundi

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There is an urgent need to increase water sup­ply and reduce the effects of cli­mate change,” the national pro­ducer asso­ci­a­tion, Italia Olivicola, has warned.

The orga­ni­za­tion said that low rain­fall and the scorch­ing heat in recent weeks in the main olive grow­ing regions are mak­ing the sit­u­a­tion worse, espe­cially in places that have expe­ri­enced wild­fires.

The heat and the strong water stress to which the plants are sub­jected are risk fac­tors for the devel­op­ment and ripen­ing of the fruit not only in the upcom­ing cam­paign but could also have a neg­a­tive impact on sub­se­quent ones.- Gennaro Sicolo, pres­i­dent, Italia Olivicola

On the one hand, this cli­matic con­tin­gency helps to curb the spread of the dreaded olive fly, which prefers cooler and more humid habi­tats,” said Gennaro Sicolo, the pres­i­dent of Italia Olivicola.

See Also: Drought Likely to Cause Production Decrease in Spain, Leading Cooperative Predicts

On the other, it risks com­pro­mis­ing the pro­duc­tion per­for­mance of the upcom­ing har­vest­ing cam­paign, bring­ing fur­ther con­cerns also for sub­se­quent ones in rela­tion to pro­duc­tion quan­tity and qual­ity,” he added.

Olive farm­ers were hope­ful dur­ing the first part of 2021 as olive groves flow­ered abun­dantly. Then, as flow­ers gave way to fruits, their hopes held firm with promises of a good har­vest in the face of chal­lenges brought about by the Covid-19 pan­demic.

However, rain failed to fall at the right times, and drought per­sisted for months. The dry con­di­tions were also accom­pa­nied by high tem­per­a­tures and fires, which have dimin­ished hopes of sub­stan­tial pro­duc­tion increases.

Through the years, the olive tree has been known as a hardy crop that can with­stand arid cli­mates; how­ever, recent cli­matic con­di­tions are threat­en­ing the trees’ abil­ity to resist dry spells.

The heat and the strong water stress to which the plants are sub­jected are risk fac­tors for the devel­op­ment and ripen­ing of the fruit not only in the upcom­ing cam­paign but could also have a neg­a­tive impact on sub­se­quent ones,” Sicolo said.

However, he added that the dura­bil­ity of the olive tree to hot and dry tem­per­a­tures jus­tify sig­nif­i­cantly increas­ing polit­i­cal and eco­nomic efforts to sup­port the sec­tor and increase the com­pet­i­tive­ness of olive grow­ers.

See Also: One-Fifth of Italy at Risk of Desertification, Irrigation Experts Warn

The con­stant request to increase the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the sup­ply chain is not con­sis­tent with the de facto unavail­abil­ity of an ade­quate sup­ply of tools to achieve the desired stan­dards, as in the case of irri­ga­tion sys­tems,” Sicolo said.

Currently, Italy’s agri­cul­ture faces many chal­lenges, includ­ing decreas­ing rain­fall over the years. This is com­pounded by poor infra­struc­ture for col­lect­ing water, low soil mois­ture and high tem­per­a­tures that inten­sify evap­o­ra­tion.

In addi­tion, the grad­ual deser­ti­fi­ca­tion of the south­ern region has not made things bet­ter. Overtime time, the prob­lem is also expected to creep north­ward.

Currently, about 70 per­cent of Sicily is at risk of deser­ti­fi­ca­tion, while in the north­ern parts of the coun­try, the risk of deser­ti­fi­ca­tion is at 30 to 50 per­cent.

Under cur­rent con­di­tions, mak­ing an appeal to the national gov­ern­ment and the regions, farms are not able to receive ade­quate sup­port for the cre­ation of irri­ga­tion sys­tems,” Sicolo con­cluded. We can over­come this impos­si­bil­ity by cre­at­ing ad hoc tools and finan­cial endow­ments for the water sup­ply in the olive groves.”





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