The country’s citrus trade has been on the slippery slope for the last 15 years. The Coldiretti agriculture association has reported the loss of some 60,000 hectares of groves. The 124,000 left include 30.000 in Calabria and 71.000 in Sicily. The Agriculture Ministry convened a meeting last October of citrus industry representatives to discuss the most critical issues and canvas remedial measures.
Euroagrumi president Salvatore Rapisarda describes the situation. “Policy-making is still in the haze of progress apart from an R&D project headed by the Ministry’s CREA station at Acireale in Sicily to combat the Tristeza citrus virus that’s already infected more than 32 thousand hectares and 15 million plants. Despite all the good intentions, there’s no firm policy line yet to bolster the needs of the supply chain from field and grower aggregation to wholesale distribution.
Yet even before you can put production on the rebound, you’ve got to protect the plants against the virus without diminishing crop quality. The Blood Orange of Sicily often has problems now keeping the red colouring that distinguishes it from imports. The best way to protect the red Tarocco, Sanguinello and Moro varieties would be to breed clones with the same traits”.