Hundreds of almond trees felled

Spain: The Xylella remains unstoppable

The disease caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa continues its expansion in various places in the Region of Valencia, affecting also the whole of the Balearic Islands, making it necessary to fell and destroy hundreds of, mostly almond, trees.

A part of the trees destroyed is directly affected by the infection, while others, apparently healthy, are felled based on the prevention rules dictated by European Union guidelines.

The pest's expansion is causing dramatic situations in some of the towns in Alicante where the first five outbreaks have been detected.

More than a hundred farmers from the Platform of People Affected by Xylella Fastidiosa in Alicante (AXFA) participated in a meeting in Guadalest on 10 January. "In it, they decided to initiate the necessary legal procedures to present a contentious administrative appeal, which aims to ensure the precautionary suspension of the massive felling of healthy trees of the third and fourth outbreak areas," as reported by Asaja.

"AXFA is asking the Council of Agriculture of the Region of Valencia to stop cutting trees indiscriminately, at least, until the publication of the results of more than 7,000 samples of analyses carried out months ago, which should reveal the true extent of the pest," explains the agrarian union.

The measures to delimit affected areas and destroy trees and other plants located in the security perimeters are intended to prevent the spread of the Xylella pest and have been designed in accordance with the guidelines approved by the European Union after numerous scientific consultations.

The expansion of the Xylella in Europe has its worst precedent in the pest that has been affecting southern Italy for five years, and which has made it necessary to fell tens of thousands of olive trees (the species most affected in this area). In Italy there were also protests by the producers affected, as they believed that the massive destruction would not solve the problem, and even questioned the relationship between the disease and the presence of the Xylella fastidiosa.

Now in Alicante, both ASAJA and the AXPA consider it "inadmissible for the Administration to continue to destroy plots where the bacterium has been detected, but where there are also many healthy trees, without enough information and without an integral map of the pest's situation. Before continuing to devastate our fields and landscape indiscriminately, we believe it is vital to learn about the real extent of the problem. They have turned us into a scapegoat for Spain and politicians in Valencia and Madrid have decided that Alicante will sacrifice its rain-fed agriculture," said the president of the Young Farmers Association ASAJA Alicante, Eladio Aniorte.

For his part, the spokesperson of AXFA, Adolfo Ribes, has denounced the lack of support from the Administration. "Those of us affected believe that the Council is not supporting us with a containment plan, not because there are no logical and well-founded reasons, but because the European Union only provides economic funds for the eradication plan (and does not provide money for the containment plan) and, therefore, they persist in enforcing it to the letter. The fact is that switching to a containment plan would mean that the Council of Agriculture itself would have to fund any actions to bring the pest under control with its own resources," explains Ribes.


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