After the Citrus Black Spot was detected in some shipments from Tunisia, FreshPlaza decided to further analyze the situation in Italy.
The Citrus Black Spot (CBS) is a disease that affects citrus fruit on a global level. The fungus (Guignardia citricarpa) generates spots on the fruits thus affecting both quality and yields.
"The fact that the CBS was detected in a few shipments of citrus fruit imported by the European Union from Tunisia confirms all our worries about the spreading of this devastating disease in the Mediterranean and that is why we require the immediate block of imports from African countries. Over the past few years, we have warned about the possible arrival of new dangerous diseases in Europe and we have asked the authorities to implement stricter checks," explains Giovanni Selvaggi, president of Consorzio Arancia Rossa di Sicilia IGP.
"Now that the danger has become real, we once again require the activation of the clauses and strict phytosanitary barriers envisaged within EU treaties and never implemented to prevent the arrival of oranges not suitably checked from countries like South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia."
Coldiretti Regional president Savino Muraglia commented that "Puglia cannot afford being hit by other alien viruses after 'Tristeza' and Xylella fastidiosa. The 2018-2019 citrus fruit campaign was affected by imports of produce with no green passport, a drop in prices and the environmental risk producers have to deal with day after day. This has had an effect not only on the economy and employment, but also on the environment and on the health of consumers."
During the past citrus fruit campaign in Taranto, local producers reported the ongoing crisis of the sales prices. "Regione Puglia's appeal did nothing: out of the 2.5 million quintals produced, 1.5 million remained unsold. Destroying the produce and uprooting hundreds of hectares was still not enough to get people to listen. We need a Regional citrus fruit plan to support new groves and a regeneration of citrus fruit in the Taranto province, explains Coldiretti Taranto president Alfonso Canallo.
CIA-Agricoltori Italiani has always tried to bring attention to the risks posed by this fungus, and now asks for additional checks to be carried out on the produce coming in from Tunisia. Gerardo Diana, president of Confagricoltura's Federazione nazionale agrumicola di Confagricoltura stated that "if the disease were to spread, it would cause irreparable damage to citrus fruit production, putting one of the leading agricultural segments in southern Italy at risk."
Confagricoltura therefore asked for imports from Tunisia to be blocked, alongside an increase in checks and a quick revision of Community regulations.
"The Community approach to imports needs to change, we need strict regulations to prevent these kinds of problems. We need to revise existing international agreements," concluded the representative from Confagricoltura.