Deadly tree disease spreads as far as the Marina Alta

Deadly disease spreads as far as the Marina Alta
ALCALALI: Where Xylellafastidiosa has now spread Photo credit Alcalali Turismo

THE Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed two new cases of Xylellafastidiosa in the province of Alicante.

The disease has been found to have infected almond and olive trees in El Comtat and the Marina Alta.

The cases were reported to the European Commission who later said in a statement that Spain is “losing the battle” against the disease that is “officially out of control”

Xylellafastidiosa is one of the most dangerous plant bacteria worldwide, causing a variety of diseases, with huge economic impact for agriculture. It was previously confined to Guadalest, where emergency action has been taken, but it has now spread to 26 almond orchards in Balls in El Comtat and Alcalali in the Marina Alta.

The current protocol, in line with European Union regulations, dictates that a plant found to be infected by Xylellafastidiosa should be eradicated, along with all plants within 100 metres of it, even if they are not infected:

‘Strict eradication measures apply, consisting in a clear cut of all host plants of the specific subspecies of Xylellafastidiosa, irrespective of their health status, in a radius of 100 m around the infected plants.’

The European Union recognises these regulations impact on the local agro-economy:

‘Although these measures impact on the local agro-economy, they are needed in the interest of the Union as whole in order to preserve EU agriculture, as well as public and private gardens.’

A total of 110,000 hectares of land will be treated in the hope of destroying vectors carrying the disease, before the trees themselves are destroyed.

Regional Councillor of Environment Elena Cebrian met with the mayors of the affected villages in order to try and calm local farmers and put compensation plans in place.

She did however confirm that biologists have not as yet identified which insect species is carrying the disease to new areas.

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