FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

The FAO and its partners are building capacity in the region about the urgent need to prevent the introduction and spread of the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacterium

@FAO-SNE group picture of the participants with Mr Lamourdia Thiombiano, FAO Sub regional Coordinator for North Africa

January 30th to February 3rd 2017 - Tunis: A training workshop for trainers from Libya (10 participants) and Tunisia (35 participants) on the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacterium – syndrome of the rapid decline of the olive tree, was held in Tunis from January 30th to February 3rd 2017. The training was provided by experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute (IAM) in Bari, to build the capacity of future technical trainers about early detection, diagnosis, surveillance and phytosanitary measures.

The training workshop gathered plant protection specialists representing the research, development and private sector (nurserymen) from various olive-growing regions in Libya and Tunisia. This workshop falls within the implementation of the FAO for its regional project on “Capacity building to prevent the introduction and spread of the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacterium, which aims to support the efforts deployed by the governments of the beneficiary countries to prevent the introduction and spread of the “Xylella fastidiosa”, in order to counter its harmful effects on olive trees, the olive sector and the economies of the countries.

This workshop is an opportunity for Libyan and Tunisian specialists to benefit from a training session on the symptoms of the “Xylella fastidiosa”, its early detection on the field and in laboratories using new laboratory technologies.

The content and expertise that are provided are based on an OMBEA self-test carried out by experts from the IAM Bari to assess the participants’ level of knowledge and evaluate the transfer of knowledge at the end of the training. Extensive communications have enabled the identification of the main insects carrying and spreading the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacterium throughout the world and Italy. The current situation of the “Xylella fastidiosa” in the EU-Mediterranean area, has been updated with an emphasis on the existing EU legislation and more particularly, the framework of the quarantine law.

Workshop activities have also covered the surveillance methods (sampling guidelines, survey design and diagnosis). Practical examples of the Italian surveillance and sampling procedures adopted in the Apulia region (on olive and other hosts) have also been explained. The innovative surveillance system of the “Xylella fastidiosa” adopted in Apulia (Italy) has been demonstrated. Updated protocols and laboratory diagnostic methods for the “Xylella fastidiosa” (NEPPO standards) were explained, clarified and discussed with the participants. The participants focused their learning on sample collection, labeling, conservation and the management of plants material and insect vectors. The use of innovative sampling methods (XylAPP) and data management has also been clarified.

Activities were carried out in the quarantine laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture in Tunis to use new technologies and equipment provided by the FAO: a “LAMP” real-time device and 5 Xylella Glow screen kits provided for Tunisian and Libyan quarantine inspectors.

The workshop was also an opportunity to go over important key points for capacity building, in terms of raising awareness regarding the “Xylella fastidiosa” bacterium, the importance of active stakeholder participation and the control of media plans. At the end, a simulation exercise was undertaken by Libyan and Tunisian participants in order to prepare a draft national prevention plan for Libya and Tunisia.