Daily Management Review

Spain Faces 'Olive Ebola'


A virus which botanists have already called «an olive Ebola» threatens Spanish olives, following the Italian plantations. The bacterium for the first time was found in the south of Italy in 2013. Now the illness threatens with elimination olive plantations in Spain — the largest producer of olive oil in Europe.

After in 2013 the American bacterium of Xylella fastidiosa got on the territory of the European continent, it already managed to considerably reduce Italy’s revenue of production and cultivation of olive trees. As the The Independent newspaper writes, experts in the field of agriculture already managed to compare the bacteria with Ebola virus.

- A disease outbreak in Italy appeared the extremely pernicious. The scales of the bacterium defeat are enormous. The virus is relentless. The Italian farmers to whom we managed to talk, told that they cared of the olive groves more carefully than of own children, but now the plants are irrevocably damaged. Less than in a year, the virus can destroy the whole plantation — tells a researcher from Institute of compensation agriculture Blanca Landa.

The microbe defeat leads to that the tree dries. As in the world there is no medicine which could become panacea from this disease, centuries-old plantations of olive trees should be cut down mercilessly to somehow stop infection.

It should be noted that the dangerous microbe of Xylella fastidiosa for the first time arose in America, but earlier was never noticed in Europe. Last year, about one million trees were infected in the Italian olive groves. According to the American biologists from the Californian university to whom Italians asked for the help, further defeat of trees is promoted by high temperature of air and a drought.

Earlier European association of safety of food warned that the bacterium of Xylella fastidiosa which destroys olive trees in Italy, can extend on other European countries making olive oil. According to the Italian farmers, the government of the country does not allocate funds for the solution of this problem. Meanwhile, as the president of consortium on production of olive oil Giovanni Melkarne noted, all basin of the Mediterranean Sea is in the zone of risk.

Olive is a characteristic Italian culture, same ancient and widespread, as grapes. You wouldn’t see it only in Piedmont, Aosta and mountain part of Trentino-Alto-Adige. As well as grapes, it are grown up and are specialized in combination with other cultures. On collecting olives, Italy concedes only to Spain. About 90% of all collecting fall on the southern areas, especially Apulia.

Spain wins first place in the world on production of olive oil, its share in the universal output makes 45%. The territories given for cultivation of olives borrow 2.423.841 hectares that makes 25% of universal plantations. On these squares, it is distributed unevenly enough. About 308 million olive trees are grown up on all territory of the country

61,1% of olive plantations of Spain are located in Andalusia on the area of 1 480 162 hectares, 21%-in the central part of the country, 13,7% - in Ekstremadure, 7,4% near the river Ebro, 6,8% on Mediterranean coast (area Levant).