Killer olive grove disease could spread to Spain

Olive oil production in the Mediterranean is taking a hit from a bacterium that has already wiped out a million trees in Italy

LAST UPDATED: 9 Mar, 2015 @ 15:39
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Andalucia produces 73% of Spain's olive oil
Andalucia produces 73% of Spain’s olive oil

A KILLER disease that has already wiped out a million olive trees in Italy could be on its way to Spain.

The Xylella fastidiosa bacterium has decimated around 570,000 acres of olive groves in Italy’s southern region of Puglia since it was first detected in 2013.

And now experts are warning that the disease could spread across the entire Mediterranean, threatening crops in Spain and Greece.

“If it expands its range further, the entire Mediterranean basin risks being contaminated,” said Giovanni Melcarne, the president of an oil-producing consortium in Italy.

“We are calling for politicians to sit up and notice what is happening and to take necessary actions.”

There have been calls to create a mile-wide cordon across the region, to prevent the disease from spreading.

Spain produces around 50% of the world’s olive oil, with 70% of that produced in Andalucia.

Last summer’s drought meant production in Spain was down by around one million tonnes to 700,000 tonnes.

Combined with the diseased crops in Italy the price of the golden liquid could soar across the continent.

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