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Guglielmo Costa (UniBo)

"Italy: "Bacteriosis can only be beaten by exchanging data"

The VIII International kiwi symposium held in Dujiangyan in September was organised by the "Kiwifruit and its culture" work group part of the International Society for Horticultural Science-ISHS.

After the opening speeches, there were seven sessions concerning Taxonomy and germplasm, Genetics and breeding, Nutrition and physiology, Psa and Post-harvest. The last session was entirely dedicated to the Actinidia arguta (kiwiberry or mini kiwi) - a species that is getting increasingly popular.

"Actually, all the sessions concerned the Psa, in order to stress the importance the disease has in all the areas where the fruit is cultivated," explains Guglielmo Costa (in the photo below), who made the final speech at the symposium.

"I chose not to talk about the scientific results presented but rather about the visits to the orchards," explains the professor, who has been studying kiwis since they were first introduced in Italy.

Some orchards with "home-made" reflecting films. 

"China is evolving quickly, just think that in 1978 there was only 1 hectare of kiwis whereas now the country produces 45% of kiwis worldwide. The quality of the orchards is improving and yields per hectare have now reached 15 tons. Chinese production will grow further in the next 10 years: it will definitely be able to satisfy internal demand and I should think that in 10-15 years' time it will appear on the international market."

"The development kiwis had in Turkey is also interesting, as 20,000 hectares have started to be cultivated in a just a few years. The same happened in Iran, researchers talked about 10,000 hectares producing 200,000 tons."

HongYang red kiwis.

"We visited both the orchards (Honyang in particular) and laboratories, as well as a kiwi museum. We were also asked to send our researchers to these new facilities to carry out various studies."

Inauguration of the memorial stone in front of the kiwi museum (Photo: F. Succi).

"For many years disease didn't affect kiwis, but now unfortunately there's the bacteriosis. Many researchers are working on a cure, but I believe the best way to tackle the problem is to exchange information and material."

Left to right: Guglielmo Costa, Ross Ferguson, Hongwen Huang and Raffaele Testolin. (Photo: G. Tacconi).

"It is also important for the researchers of the main producer countries to talk about this need with the authorities, so as to have a free channel to move the material. The help of public institutions is essential and I agreed to draft a sort of memorandum of understanding to be submitted to the competent authorities."

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