National and EU law | Programs and subsidies | Greek legislation | Ministry

Olive fly threatens Greece’s olive groves

Margarita Kouza

When it comes to controlling the olive fly, being vigilant, diligent, and systematic is critical as the fly population can multiply rapidly and destroy an entire olive crop.

Spain, Greece and Italy account for 80% of the world’s production of olives and olive oil , thus the olive fly , the single biggest problem facing the majority of olive groves around the world, is considered as a “public enemy”.

In many rural areas in Greece , the sole agricultural income comes from the olive crop. The olive fly has a serious impact on the local economy. Olive fly infestation, even at low levels, makes table olives unmarketable and adversely affects the acidity, and hence quality and value of olive oil.

Curiously, the last five years the Greek Ministry of Agriculture decided to significantly reduce State aid to control olive fruit .On 2010 Greece spent approximately €35 million on olive fly controlling . On 2011 and 2012 the expense was reduced to 28 million euro, on 2013 and 2014 to 24,696.000 million euro. In five years the total cut reached 10,3 million euros, reduced by 30% compared to 2010.

But, by cutting the budget to control the most noxious pest of olive groves is the Greek government really saving money?

The olive fly has a unique ability to cope with olive flesh. The fly lays its eggs in the olive fruit and the developing larvae tunnels through the olive, feeding on the fleshy mesocarp.

The infestation severely affects the quality (up to 80%) and value of the olive oil and cause the rejection of entire harvests of table olives which become unsuitable for consumption.

In such a case and without the proper spending to fight the pest, the economic loss would be disastrous.
Agricultural Cooperatives, agro-economists, olive experts and producers reacted strongly against the decision of the Greek Ministry of Agriculture , arguing that the subsidy is not enough to take the appropriate measures to maintain possible infestations below the damage threshold.


The president of the Agricultural Cooperative of Kritsa, Crete, Nikos Zahariadis, said that the catastrophic harvest of 2013 combined with the luck of the appropriate State subsidy to control the olive fly could ring the death knell of the olive-growing sector in Crete. The Agricultural Cooperative of Kritsa produces some top quality Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oils, twice awarded with top prizes on the Mario Solinas International Quality Contest.

By the most modest calculations, the Greek Ministry of Agriculture by attempting to save 10,3  million euro, risks to loose ten times more , as an olive fly infestation can cause a loss of 90,000,000 euros of the income of olive oil and olives production.

It is not an intelligent calculation even if the Troika’s pressures made us Greeks forget our Maths. 


Visitors' comments

  • | Derek Cronk
    We are having the same problem with the Olive fly here in California. But we do not get any subsidy or assistance from the state to pay for our controls.

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