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Integrated Pest Management Package on Olive

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Package on olive is a strategy of olive pest control developed in Albania by the Plant Protection Institute (PPI), the leading institution of a wide research consortium. The IPM package gives the possibility to manage the olive fruit fly (Bactrocera olea Gml), the key pest of this crop that causes serious damage to the fruits and reduces the quality of the olive oil.

[p:justify]Olive production is a leading industry that contributes to local economic development and enhances the quality of life of the community. Albania is a traditional exporter of olives and olive oil and pests are the main constraint to production. In the past, olive fruits were treated with heavy quantities of broad-spectrum insecticides that are hazardous to the health and to the environment. At present, attempts are being made in Albania to reduce the use of chemicals by introducing new approaches, such as the integrated pest control (IPM) practices. In particular, the Plant Protection Institute (PPI), founded in 1971, promotes the adoption of practices that encourage a safe and efficient use of pesticides and support farmers in the implementation of innovative strategies.

The IPM package represents a sustainable means to combat the olive fruit fly and allows farmers to minimize environmental, health and economic risks. The IPM package consists of an innovative combination of three different methods:
a specific monitoring system for the olive fruit fly, that can be easily adapted to different climatic conditions;
the so called “Attract and Kill” method, that involves the use of pheromones and food attractants;
cultural practices, such as the anticipated harvesting of olives to prevent heavy attacks of the olive fruit fly.

The IPM Programme in Albania is managed by the Plant Protection Institute, in collaboration with the Agriculture University of Tirana, the Fruit Tree Research Institute of Vlora, the Pennsylvania State University, the University of California and Virginia Tech. Between 2000 and 2004, this consortium provided assistance to the Albanian institutions for the production and exportation of olives, through a specific programme called “Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Programme” (IPM-CRSP). The objective of the consortium is to produce high quality olive oil, reducing losses and environmental contamination and developing IPM practices to increase the quantity and quality of Albanian olives, both for domestic use and exportation.

At present, the IPM package is being adopted with excellent results in three organic olive farms in the Tirana and Vlora regions. Organic olives are certified by the BIOSWISSE international certification. The use of the IPM package brings relevant benefits to the environment, since it allows a reduction in the use of pesticides and in the amount of pesticides residues on olive products, thus increasing the beneficial fauna in the olive ecosystem. The relevant economic benefit is represented by the opportunity for farmers to produce organic olive oil and to introduce it into the national and international markets at very advantageous prices. Economic analyses show that the IPM Package gives the Albanian olive industry the potentiality to achieve benefits up to 39 million USD over the next 30 years.

It is estimated that the olive fruit fly is responsible for 30-40% of the losses in the olive production of the Mediterranean region. The IPM package can be used in all countries infested with olive fruit flies.