More trees af­fected by al­mond killer

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - NEWS - By Jo Pugh

A FIFTH out­break of Xylella Fas­tid­iosa has been de­clared in the Ma­rina Alta, which could se­ri­ously af­fect the fu­ture of al­mond trees in the area.

Twenty more plots have been de­clared as in­fected, these be­ing in Al­tea, Benissa, Cal­losa d'en Sar­rià, Gata de Gor­gos, Lliber, Par­cent and Jalón.

The Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Fish­eries, Ro­ge­lio Llanes, or­dered ur­gent mea­sures of erad­i­ca­tion and con­trol to be taken with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Ben­i­man­tell, close to Guadalest, was se­ri­ously af­fected, with six in­fected trees found in one lo­ca­tion. Tests con­firmed the pres­ence of six in­di­vid­ual in­sects - Phi­laenus spumar­ius, the car­rier of the dis­ease.

In the af­fected ar­eas, a to­tal of 8,126 plant sam­ples were taken, of which 127 al­mond trees from 106 plots were pos­i­tive. 2,388 were neg­a­tive, and the re­main­der are still pend­ing re­sults. To date, in the whole of the Va­len­cia re­gion, 11,622 sam­ples have been taken, with 4,563 neg­a­tive re­sults and 127 pos­i­tive.

In the ini­tial four af­fected ar­eas, 143 plots (45 hectares) were treated with in­sec­ti­cide (lambda cy­halothrin) and 26 plots, in­clud­ing 975 al­mond trees and un­der­ly­ing shrub­bery, were de­stroyed by the Min­istry.

Af­fected tree own­ers were called by Min­istry of­fi­cials to at­tend an ur­gent meet­ing in Pi­nos vil­lage school in Benissa yes­ter­day af­ter­noon with tech­ni­cians to in­form them about how to han­dle the in­fec­tion.

Res­i­dents, in­clud­ing many ex­pats, have told Costa Blanca News that many other trees are be­ing in­fected and they are de­mand­ing in­for­ma­tion to tackle the prob­lem.

The Re­gional Sec­re­tary for Agri­cul­ture, Ro­dríguez Mulero, said: “The mea­sures be­ing taken are manda­tory, and are backed by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and the Euro­pean Union.”

He also as­sured that progress is be­ing made in the field of re­search and in the study of a re­struc­tur­ing plan for the area af­fected by Xylella fas­tid­iosa in or­der to give farm­ers vi­able farm­ing op­tions.

"Half of the in­for­ma­tion is be­ing given to us, to avoid us mak­ing it pub­lic that the plague has spread be­yond our prov­ince," the Pres­i­dent of the Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion for Ali­cante, Ela­dio Aniorte, said in a state­ment.

“In the face of this sit­u­a­tion of de­fence­less­ness and opac­ity of in­for­ma­tion, the group AXFA ('Af­fected by Xylella Fas­tid­iosa of Ali­cante') and our­selves will ask for the Provincial Coun­cil's as­sis­tance to sup­port them legally and po­lit­i­cally,” his press re­lease stated.

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture will pub­lish the com­pen­sa­tion fig­ures for farm­ers next month.

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