Deadly tree disease continues to spread

Deadly disease reaches Benissa 1
BENISSA: Where Xylellafastidiosa has now spread Photo credit Benissa Turisme

THE Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed a new case of Xylellafastidiosa on the Marina Alta. 

The disease has been found to have infected four almond tree plots in Benissa – three in la partida de Pinos and another in Berdica.

Benissa Councillor Domenec Miralles, visited the infected fields earlier this week and stressed that the spread of the disease is “worrisome, both by the devastating effect of the bacteria on the tree and by the visual effect it causes across agricultural plots.”

In September, the European Commission 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 then spread to 26 almond orchards in Balls in El Comtat and Alcalali before making its way to Benissa.

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.”

Regional Councillor of Environment Elena Cebrian has 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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