Research and Extension Systems

Integrated pest management research is helping to control olive pests in Italy, new FAO video shows

A new multi-media production (available here) showcases the positive outcome of an integrated pest management (IPM) initiative to control olive pests in the hills surrounding Canino, a small town in central Italy. The short film has been produced and released in the context of Impresa, a project funded by the European Union to assess the impact of research on EU agriculture in which FAO participated.

Initiated by ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Sustainable economic development) in 1979, the Canino project was demand-driven and implemented through a multi-stakeholders platform. According to a recent study done under Impresa by FAO's Research and Extension Unit, the implementation of IPM was instrumental in increasing olive productivity and reducing pesticide overuse in Canino. 

"Canino had a problem with olive growing: it was unsustainable because they were spraying too much", recalls Maurizio Calvitti, an entomologist at ENEA. "They asked Enea for support and so, 20-30 years ago, our cooperation started, and it is still an example of research at the service of the agricultural sector". 

Nowadays, the system still works with traps that are put down over most of the area cultivated by the Canino Cooperative Mill and that are monitored by the Co-op technicians. Samples of the olives are collected by technicians and olive growers, and then brought to the laboratory. Through a microscope, a technician looks under the puncture to see if there are any life forms inside the olive. Life forms allow to establish the percentage of infestations which leads to an advice as to spray or not. 

The advice provides information that helps the farmer to perform the treatment – to decide when to spray, what doses to use and which active principles should be applied.

Ultimately, the project allowed to cut the usage of pesticides and this resulted in environmental protection and improved livelihoods of olive growers in Canino.