The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a technical cooperation programme aimed to prevent the spread of Xylella fastidiosa (Xf) in North Africa and the Middle East, Olive Oil Times reports on 15 September.

The project aimed to facilitate early detection, diagnosis and monitoring of Xf, and began in response to requests from the governments of countries including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

The programme would work to improve the technical capacity of local institutions and farmers and raise awareness on preventing the spread of the bacterium, which has devastated olive groves in Italy’s Apulia region.

The official launch date of the programme was 29 August in Tunis, Tunisia.

A five-day workshop focused on planning activities related to the project and designed an implementation action plan.

Olive Oil Times said measures such as the FAO’s programme were seen as necessary in order to further prevent the spread of Xf.