Comitato SOS – Salviamo Ora il Salento (Save Salento Now Committee) – is a voluntary organization founded by 26 long-standing organic and biodynamic farms whose high quality products are recognized in Italy and abroad.
The farms are all located in Salento, in Puglia’s Lecce province. Some of them are found in the so-called ‘Xylella fastidiosa-infected’ zone.
The Committee’s objectives are:
to protect and defend the agro-forestry environment of Salento and its biodiversity
to promote and spread the organic and biodynamic farming approach.
to undertake joint initiatives regarding various issues such as the current ‘Rapid Dessication of Olive Trees Syndrome’ outbreak (‘CoDiRo’).
WHAT DO WE THINK HAS CAUSED ‘CoDiRo’
THE USE AND ABUSE OF PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES, for over 50 years without any control or regulations.
THE ABANDONED STATE of a substantial number of olive groves, due to declined (or non-existent) profitability, the result of a market that does not reward quality.
THE UNCONTROLLED IMPORTATION OF PLANTS from geographically-diverse areas, resulting in the introduction of new pathogens.
OLIVE TREES HAVE BECOME MORE VULNERABLE to fungi and other pathogens
THE FERTILE SUBSTRATE OF THE SOIL HAS BEEN DEPLETED and biotic factors – key for the maintaining a balanced ecosystem (as in spontaneous grass, parasite antagonist organisms, pollinators, etc – destroyed
THE SEVERE IMBALANCE IN PLANT NUTRITION, in particular with regard to the xylem (the vascular tissue in plants which conducts water and dissolved nutrients).
CRITICISMS OF THE SILLETTI PLAN
– ERADICATING OLIVE TREES is not the solution. The Xylella fastidiosa bacterium is present on many other host plants and its carrier ‘Sputacchina’ (Philaenus spumarius) is a polyphagous insect (able to feed on various plant species).
– USING EVEN MORE PESTICIDES IS USELESS: It would just mean perpetuating the destruction of the ecosystem
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. The devastating impact on the environment and on human health of the massive and simultaneous use of pesticides and herbicides is self-evident, particularly in Puglia, which is already seeing very high rates of cancer.
There is a real risk that Salento’s organic and biodynamic farms will be forced to cease production as a result of losing their organic certification.
Likewise, other Salento businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sectors, will be deeply affected by the image of an area in quarantine and with a seriously compromised natural environment.
The only way to save nature is through nature itself.
Our certainty that the olive trees can be cured comes from the very high degree of resilience that this wonderful plant has. ‘Resilience’ in ecology and in biology is understood as the ability of an element to self-repair after damage and to return to the initial state after being subjected to a disturbance that has removed it from that state.
Hence we propose:
SUITABLE AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES: balanced pruning, cutting down grass, light harrowing, targeted farming operations and, above all, disease prevention.
RESTORING THE SOIL’S VITALITY: organic fertilizers, green manure and careful soil management to restore the structure and humus level of the soil.
BANNING THE USE OF HERBICIDES and using, instead, balanced organic agricultural practices. “Xylella fastidiosa is linked to all other living organisms in the biosphere and different ecosystems, and not just with this or that pathogen, this or that plant (….). Raging against any specific pathogen can only create more damage, as the centuries-old experience teaches us that it increases the risk of creating new pathogens and hence new diseases.” (Prof. Pietro Perrino)
WHAT WE WANT TO DO
BLOCK THE SILLETTI PLAN, the result of a short-sighted and anachronistic approach.
CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING A NEW PLAN with a technical, multidisciplinary and scientific approach, supported by the experience and wisdom already held by organic and non-organic olive farmers.
VALUE AND PROTECT THE NATIVE VARIETIES OF OLIVES. The Ogliarola di Lecce and Cellina di Nardo varieties of olive trees are the most resistant to adversity within their own ecosystem, through the process of auto-selection over the centuries
PROMOTE THE BIRTH OF A NEW SALENTO AGRICULTURE through the use of effective systems of care and innovative, environmentally-friendly agronomic methods.
PROMOTE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH within organic and biodynamic farming, by planning studies amongst our local agencies with the aim of disseminating objective findings with scientific value that will benefit the whole territory, as opposed to its destruction and ‘desertification’.
For the above reasons, we are appealing for the support of everyone in society who cannot and will not stand by and watch the massacre that is taking place against our ecosystem, an ecosystem on which our cultural identity is founded and whose destruction poses a serious risk to the future of Salento and to the generations to come.