`Could the Crisis in Italy Have Been Prevented? - Olive Oil Times

Could the Crisis in Italy Have Been Prevented?

By Marco Marino
Nov. 24, 2014 18:07 UTC

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 Also: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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