FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Webinar on Xylella Fastidiosa: A global bacterium threat invading the Near East and North Africa region

Multiple Cities, 29 July 2020 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is organizing, today, a webinar for another imminent global threat to plant health and crop production in Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), now on the doorsteps of the Near East and North Africa Region (NENA).

The event will explain the potential impact of Xylella fastidiosa in NENA region on agriculture production, exports, economic development, and small-scale farm holder. Meanwhile, it will discuss the state of art technology used in Europe to combat Xf, and the current efforts in the region.
Part of the expected outcomes of the event to be attended by global and regional experts and policy makers:
to exchange knowledge to find the needed action to prevent the introduction and the spread of Xylella fastidiosa,
provide convincing evidences to national governments and international donors of the importance of mobilizing resources to support Xf management in NENA region,
Compare the management model of Xf in Europe to the implemented efforts in NENA to highlight the gaps and the required actions.

Xylella fastidiosa is a plant pathogenic bacterium which is spread by xylem sap feeding insects. Xylella host plants include 561 plant species; which belong to 264 genera in 82 botanical families. This bacterium originates in the Americas (Pierce's disease) and spread to Europe a few years ago, threatening all Mediterranean basin and the Near East. It has been already reported on almond and grapevine in Iran and there are a few other unconfirmed reports.
In the EU, since the first report of Xylella fastidiosa in olive trees in Southern Italy in 2013, the bacterium has been reported in France (in Corsica and the Provence Alpes Cotes d’Azur region), in Spain (in the Balearic Islands, in Madrid and Comunitat Valenciana - province of Alicante), in central Italy (Tuscany) and more recently in Portugal (Porto).
Xylella fastidiosa ranked first as a priority pest for the EU according to Regulation (EU) 2016/203.
A recent report estimates that Xylella fastidiosa full spread could ultimately cost the EU over €5.5 billion Euros per year due to loss of production, with potential export losses of €0.7 billion Euros per year. This could put nearly 300,000 jobs involved in olive trees, citrus, almonds and grapes production at risk.
Up until now, no curative measures are available to heal an infected tree. Therefore, prompt quarantine and containment measures need to be put in place in infested areas.
Countries/regions, where bacterium not reported yet, need to strengthen prevention measures and enforce quarantine and phytosanitary control procedures, as well as implementing surveillance programs for this destructive pathogen. Phytosanitary agencies are urged to put in place a contingency plan ready to apply in case Xylella fastidiosa is reported.
The speakers of this webinar will update the stats of Xylella fastidiosa at the global level and focus the attention of member countries to the threats of Xf to the NENA region.


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