FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

North African workshop on “the fight against the red palm weevil” ‘Rhynchophorus ferrugineus’ and the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacteria

The Arab Maghreb Union and FAO are working in the North African sub-region to protect date palms and olive trees

@fao participants at workshop

Tangier: 11-13 April 2016. The Sub regional office of the FAO for North Africa supported the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) and the Near East Plant Protection Organization (NEPPO) in organizing a workshop for Maghreb in order to revitalize and strengthen the exchange and cooperation between the countries of the sub-region in the protection of plants against the menace of two main pests threatening the date palms production (the red palm weevil) and olive trees (the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium).

Given the urgency of the situation, FAO launched a Regional Technical Cooperation Program to assist countries in the Middle East and North Africa in facing the threat of the “Xylella fastidiosa” on olive trees. A new Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) of Emergency is also being prepared to assist the government of Mauritania in controlling the “red palm weevil” in the “Tidjikja” oasis.

During the three-day workshop, the members of the Plant Committee of the UMA, supported by national and international experts as well as FAO technical experts, will discuss current programs and develop a strategic plan against the red palm weevil and the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacteria. A program and an action plan will be designed for the UMA Plant committee seeking the revitalization and activation of its networking.

The control and prevention of pests is a major challenge for the development of agriculture and food security

At the request of the countries of the sub region, FAO carries on its support to prevent and control the high threat of destructive pests’ spread threatening olive trees and date palms that are the basis of the agricultural production in the Maghreb, placing the region amongst the leading exporters of olive oil and dates. The red palm weevil has been reported in Tangiers, Morocco in December 2008, in Tobruk in northeastern Libya in January 2009 and in Tunisia in 2011. Its infection of date palm in the oasis of “Tidjikja” in Mauritania was reported in late December 2015. The FAO interventions against the red palm weevil come under the sub regional project for technical cooperation (TCP): “Managing the red palm weevil in North Africa – ( 2011-2013)”. The TCP has supported Libya, Morocco and Tunisia in their control programs. As for Algeria and Mauritania, the support was focused on the prevention of the parasite. A new emergency TCP to control the red palm weevil is currently being implemented in Mauritania (April 2016 - March 2017).

The “Xylella fastidiosa” bacteria appeared few years ago in a small area near Gallipoli in southern Italy. It soon spread in epidemic form in 2013 in the Puglia region.

In this context, olive producing countries around the Mediterranean Sea and especially the northern ones were mobilized to control the situation and prevent the threat of the spread and rapid dispersal of this bacterium that is transmitted by insects and attacks different plant species, including olive trees. To this end, the European Union has set aside a large fund to develop control programs against the “Xylella fastidiosa.”


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