Funding of €11 million has been offered to growers in Italy as they battle Xylella fastidiosa, a leaf scorch labeled by some as the ‘olive ebola’ which is also a threat to other fruit crops in Europe including citrus fruit and grapes.
Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina declared a state of calamity for the disease emergency yesterday, covering the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi on the southeastern peninsula of Salento.
The announcement was made during a visit to the region with EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. The EU has previously expressed its concerns about the disease’s spread in the continent. In April, Xylella was also found in a coffee plant at a wholesale market outside Paris, prompting fears about its threat to the nation’s vineyards.
“We are in Puglia to reaffirm that the protection of Salento olive farming is an Italian and European priority. At this time, I have signed a decree for the compensation of farmers affected in the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi, which for the first time in a phytosanitary emergency allows for the activation of the National Solidarity Fund,” Martina said.