The grassroots organization Save the Olives and the Italian farmers’ organization Coldiretti, one of the stakeholders’ associations involved in the BeXyl project, launched an awareness initiative on Xylella fastidiosa in the schools of Apulia, giving grafting lessons to students. Twenty-two boys and girls from a high school in Fasano (Brindisi province) learned from experts about the risks of X. fastidiosa spread for the centuries-old olive trees in their territory and some drafting techniques to safeguard them.
“We held the initiative on the 53rd edition of Earth Day”, the secretary general of Save the Olives Patrizio Ziggiotti stated. “It’s the first time we try to involve the students in sharing not only information but also operational tips,” he added. “We’ll continue to raise awareness of the population on the risks of X. fastidiosa, especially in schools,” Ziggiotti concluded.
In Apulia, campaigns promoting early grafting of the olive trees with cultivars that have shown resistance traits to X. fastidiosa have taken off, to curb the bacterium’s spread and prevent severe infection of the plants, especially the centuries-old ones. It is an encouraging sign of citizens’ and farmers’ participation.
“We have organized training courses for monumental olive trees with Save the Olives and Coldiretti,” the agronomist Cosimo Leone says. “We have had many participants, especially young farmers and agricultural professionals but also non-farmers,” he states.
Time, however, is running out. Grafting on centuries-old olive trees is a delicate task. Agronomists must do it in spring with healthy scions and meticulous technique.
Photo courtesy of Save the Olives ONLUS