` Could the Crisis in Italy Have Been Prevented?


Could the Crisis in Italy Have Been Prevented?

Nov. 24, 2014
By Marco Marino

Recent News

2014 will go down as one of the worst years in recent his­tory for olive oil pro­duc­tion in Italy.

The lat­est data pro­vided by ISMEA (the Ital­ian Insti­tute of Ser­vices for Agri­cul­ture and Food Mar­ket) show dou­ble-digit drops in pro­duc­tion in all regions, except in Pied­mont and Sar­dinia.
See more: Com­plete Cov­er­age of the 2014 Har­vest
The rea­sons for the cri­sis are the same from North to South: the exces­sive sum­mer rain favor­ing the spread of olive fruit fly (bac­te­ro­cera oleae), and a hot, humid Octo­ber that accel­er­ated the olives’ mat­u­ra­tion caused a strong infes­ta­tion of olive lep­rosy” (Gloeospo­rium oli­varum) and pea­cock spot” (Spi­lo­caea oleaginea).

Almost every­where in the coun­try, pro­duc­ers are com­plain­ing about the har­vest and demand­ing access to aid for their sharply lower incomes.

But some experts are blam­ing the pro­duc­ers them­selves for being caught so unpre­pared for the emer­gency.


Leonardo Lau­reti, pres­i­dent of the Umbrian DOP Con­sor­tium, told Sapere Food that many Umbrian pro­duc­ers under­es­ti­mated the crit­i­cal nature of the sea­son, show­ing lit­tle pro­fes­sion­al­ism.”

This year was dif­fi­cult for the whole coun­try and also Spain and Por­tu­gal faced sim­i­lar prob­lems,” Lau­reti con­tin­ued, but today we must be able to fore­see such risks, we can’t leave the olives up to fate. The Plant Pro­tec­tion Ser­vice of the Umbria Region issued a warn­ing urg­ing pro­duc­ers to imple­ment spe­cific treat­ments, but despite the first signs, many under­es­ti­mated the sit­u­a­tion.”

Leonardo Lau­reti

Accord­ing to Lau­reti, Umbria is not aware of its poten­tial. Our region pro­duces about 1.7 per­cent of Ital­ian oil and rep­re­sents 0.2 — 0.3 per­cent of the entire world pro­duc­tion. But we are a land that is rec­og­nized over­seas for its excel­lent qual­ity and a great abil­ity to export. Still a regional plan for the Umbrian oil does not exist yet.”

Lau­reti does not trust the use­ful­ness of eco­nomic aid granted to vic­tims of nat­ural dis­as­ters: The olive fly is not a new species, and the pre­ven­tion meth­ods are well cod­i­fied both in the inte­grated and organic pro­duc­tion rules. There are also multi-risk poli­cies co-financed by the Euro­pean Union, which few farm­ers know.”

This sea­son,” Lau­reti con­cluded, must be a warn­ing for all of us. In Umbria, the future olive cul­ti­va­tion must be dif­fer­ent than the cur­rent one; we need to invest in olive groves if we really want to pre­vent such sit­u­a­tions in the future.”

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