"We need to save Italian oranges from the diseases that are entering the country together from imported citrus fruits." Confagricoltura has asked for more border controls after the black spot (CBS-Citrus Black Spot) was also found in Campania on products from South Africa. This phytopathy, which Europe has so far been unaffected by, had already been intercepted last July in two Sicilian ports and the European Union had intervened to block imports from Argentina.
It was South Africa itself that decided to stop sending late Valencian oranges from infected areas to the European Union. The decision taken by the country, however, is limited to this variety and applies only to products from the contaminated areas.
"At this point - underlined the Organization of Agricultural Entrepreneurs - the risk that Italian citrus fruit companies run is very high. If the disease were to spread on the national territory it would cause irreparable damage to our citrus fruit heritage, which represents excellence. The sector is worth almost a billion euros, more than half of which is represented by oranges alone, where we are the world's thirteenth largest producer".
It is evident that it is necessary to observe the precautionary principle in order to preserve the territory from the entry of dangerous diseases, as well as the principle of reciprocity, to allow national producers to operate under the same conditions as their competitors. With the approval of the reform of the national plant health system, the levels of security on imported goods should be higher.
"The amount of risk is very high, especially in this delicate moment," pointed out Gerardo Diana, president of the National Federation of Citrus Farming Confagriculture. "The authorities need to be vigilant, tightening controls on incoming goods flows, to make sure that all requirements are met, starting with oranges from South Africa, which are increasingly present on the domestic market. Supporting the agricultural enterprises who distinguish their production on quality is a must in order to guarantee the essential supplies of healthy and tasty Italian citrus fruits".