The Councillor for the Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Balearic Islands, VicenÁ Vidal, reported that 431 cases of trees and plants affected by Xylella fastidiosa have been confirmed in the Balearic Islands, of which 246 (57% of the total) have been removed since the first case was detected in Mallorca in October last year. Of the total, 280 cases of the bacterium have been detected in Mallorca, 63 in Menorca and 88 in Ibiza, as reported by the Council in a statement.
In Mallorca, 13 new cases have been confirmed in vines, in addition to those detected in a table wine plantation for self-consumption in June. There are also 126 almond trees, 13 olive trees and 80 wild olive trees infected by the multiplex and fastidiosa subspecies.
In Menorca, there are 6 cases affecting almond trees, 7 in olive trees and 46 in wild olive trees, all of the multiplex subspecies. Meanwhile, in Ibiza, there are 30 cases of olive trees affected, 2 cases of almond trees and 43 of wild olives, all hit by the pauca subspecies.
The Councillor of Agriculture has met with the agricultural sector and chaired the first sectoral wine sector to present the actions planned to combat the bacteria now and in the future. VicenÁ Vidal pointed out that the Government is fighting the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium on five fronts: through participation, with a containment plan, through research, experimentation and by supporting the sector.
When it comes to support to the sector, "a joint decision will be made on the most useful way of compensating for the losses caused by the bacterium, either by replanting or by providing financial support to the producers themselves," said the statement.
In the framework of the action plan motivated by the unofficial request of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the European Commission (following the audit carried out by its inspectors in June), the Balearic Islands has been divided into 5,600 individual square kilometre sections, so that there can be a "real picture of the situation by the end of the year."
1,036 sections have already been surveyed for now; 18.5% of the total. This is 10.6% of the sections of Mallorca, 35.2% of those in Menorca, 40.7% of those in Ibiza and 30.4% of those in Formentera.
In the field of research, there is a state project focused on finding strategies for the eradication, containment and control of Xylella fastidiosa with a 1.5 million Euro budget, of which 300,000 are allocated to a subproject in the Balearic Islands focused on the infection process and the response of genotypes or subtypes, which will be carried out by the National Institute of Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA) and the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB).
Additionally, 200,000 Euro from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will be made available to fund a study on the biology of the bacteria and the vectors that transmit it, which will be complemented by another one carried out by the Biology Department of the UIB on potential vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Mallorca, which has already yielded some preliminary results.
A project for the design and implementation of pest control strategies, funded with 1 million Euro, will study the relationships between Xylella fastidiosa and the soil and plant microbiology, the detection and impact of the bacterium on wild plants and indigenous flora and the characterization of the environmental conditions that favour the appearance of the disease, besides the design and the development of strategies for the sustainable control of the pest.
It also includes the creation of a system to detect crops affected by the bacterium with aerial images and the study of the tolerance of native plant material of almond, vine and olive crops.
Moreover, there is an evaluation of the resistance to the bacterium of the different crops affected and of the treatment with several products.