EU says almond trees must go
35,000 Xylella-infected trees in Alicante province may be destroyed
Thirty-five thousand infected trees may be destroyed
THIRTY-five thousand almond trees may be destroyed after the EU requested that trees infected with the Xyella Fastidiosa bacteria should be removed. The decision affects three areas - the Marina Alta, Marina Baixa and El Comtat.
Healthy trees within a radius of 100 metres of any infected almonds are also to be uprooted and burned on the spot. The EU, following an audit of the bacteria-affected areas, has sent a compliance notice to the Valencia regional government with an order that destruction should have com- menced, which will affect 1,250 hectares of crops.
The audit was revealed this week by the secretary of farmers for the region, Francisco Rodríguez, who relayed his ‘understanding’ at the distress for growers who own the 153 affected plots. He defended the measures, saying: “These are mandatory actions according to the phytosanitary regulations of the European Union.”
In the Marina Alta, Alcalalí, Benigembla, Benissa, Calpe, Gata de Gorgos, Llíber, Murla, Parcent, Senija, and Jalón are all affected. With the destruc- tion of the trees, there will be no option to replant almond crops for at least five years, and a committee of experts is already looking for 'alternatives to the cultivation of almonds in the area, in order that farmers can regain their agricultural activity', said Rodríguez.
The farmers, however, believe these extreme measures are not necessary.
The president of Asaja (the farmers union), Eladio Aniorte, believes that it is not necessary to destroy healthy trees because 'there is not the slightest certainty that the plague will stop'. He encour- aged ‘less aggressive, invasive and harmful solutions such as containment, study and experimentation, co-existing with this plague, just as is being done in many other countries'.
Three weeks ago in Guadalest, farmers staged a protest which also prevented heavy plant machinery from destroying trees as they blocked access to an affected plot.
Xyella Fastidiosa is now being called an ‘authentic catastrophe’ for the region, as not only will the farmers be affected, but the almond production and tourism will also suffer the consequences.