Above: Centuries-old olive trees in Puglia are being threatened by an alarming outbreak of xylella fastidiosa, also known as Pierce’s Disease. Olive groves and olive oil production are central to the Pugliese economy.
More than two months have passed since Puglia President Nicola Vendola wrote to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi asking for emergency aid as the region continues to battle an alarming outbreak of xylella fastidiosa, also known as Pierce’s Disease (see our most recent post on the crisis here).
Last week the Italian government’s Council of Ministers finally moved to declare a state of emergency and in doing so created a legal channel for the allocation of funds and emergency services to help combat the disease, which has already affected an estimated 2.5 million olive trees there.
The following statement by Coldiretti Puglia President Gianni Cantele has been translated from a press release issued by the association on its website.
“The current [Italian government] Council of Ministries’ declaration of a state of emergency is the first, however long overdue, concrete act in the battle in the eradication of xylella fastidiosa [Pierce’s] disease. This pathogen need to be quarantined: it has already desiccated thousands of olive trees in the Salento peninsula and it has wiped out the livelihoods of hundreds of olive oil producers, including cooperatives and presses in an area where olive oil production has always been the focus of the economy. In the light of the high risk that this illness will spread, it also represents the Council’s embrace of its responsibility toward the rest of the region [of Puglia], Italy, and Europe. The declaration of a state of emergency will allow the head of the office of emergency planning to nominate a commissioner charged with addressing the current crisis.”
Winemaker Gianni Cantele was elected president of Coldiretti Puglia in January 2013. Coldiretti is the Italian confederation of food growers.