The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency, and Ecological Transition will transform the Caudete de Fuentes bio plant (Valencia) into a world reference center in the biological fight against pests.
The President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, and the Minister of Agriculture, Mireia Mollà, visited this biological pest control center on Tuesday to learn about the details of the construction project. 14.2 million euro will be invested in the project and the works are scheduled to begin this year. The construction of a new building in Caudete makes it necessary to build a new facility in Elche and expand the facilities of the Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA) in Moncada, to be able to attend to the increase in larval production.
Since 2007, the Caudete facilities have housed the pioneering sterile insect technique, the main method of fighting the Mediterranean fly (Ceratitis capitata) that mainly affects citrus. Sterilization and subsequent massive release of sterile males make fertilization and viability of the eggs unfeasible reducing the population of this insect by 50%, thus helping preserve crops.
Puig assured that the results of this experience have allowed decreasing chemical fumigation by aerial means by 95%. In fact, the goal of the expansion project is to increase the production capacity of sterile males by 60%, from 500 to 800 million weekly larvae, therefore extending the control method to 100% of the citrus fields and another 40,000 hectares of fruit trees vulnerable to the plague, such as medlar, cherry, plum, or peach trees.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, Mireia Mollà, the increase in capacity would expand by the release zones by 60,000 hectares, from the current 140,000 to 200,000. "The Caudete bio plant could also be used to carry out other biological control projects, like the ones the Ministry is conducting against the 'cotonet' or the olive fly."