We have covered the significant impact of the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium affecting olive trees throughout the Mediterranean in the past. This year was one of the worst harvests on record for nations like Italy, Spain and France because the bacteria has been so widespread and devastating that it has choked the life out of many trees.
Now, the Italian forestry industry has come to its last resort—cutting down infected olive trees throughout the region of Apulia to prevent the further spread of the disease. This means that more than 74,000 acres of olive groves and more than 11 million trees could be completely axed in the coming weeks and months.
The decision has not come without controversy. Many people in and out of the olive industry are extremely against chopping down the trees, some of which are more than 500 years old. Opponents say that chopping down the trees will not effectively contain the outbreak of the disease. While the first trees were chopped down and burned, opponents shouted out “assassins!” to the workers cutting them down.
However, experts say that if there is any hope of eradicating the spread of the bacteria, the infected plants must be killed, as painful as it can be to say goodbye to trees of such historical importance.
The region has already seen economic devastation as a result of the breakout. Many other countries in the European Union have vocalized their fear about the contamination continuing to spread. As a result, France recently announced a ban on the importing of all plants and vegetables from the Apulia region until it is proven that the infection has been eradicated. For many people in Apulia, the olive industry is their life, and has been their family’s profession for generations.
We can only pray that the situation will be resolved before the next harvest, but it appears that there is a long way to go before the Mediterranean region is cured of this horrific plague.
For more information on olive oil production and the growth of olive trees, we encourage you to contact us today at My Olive Tree, and to consider sponsoring a tree in one of our Peace Groves.
Our mission is to create a partnership between the Evangelical community and the nation of Israel; this partnership will produce employment, income, and revenue for humanitarian aid projects in Israel. We envision the planting of one-million olive trees over the next seven years. This relationship was prophesied in the Bible centuries ago, that the foreigners and strangers (those not of Jewish descent) would help rebuild the walls of Israel and cause the desert to bloom (Isa 35:1). Among other things, this reforestation is an environmental blessing for the entire region. May all who participate in this project be blessed body, soul and spirit; it is time for you to take root in Israel!