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The Almond Tree Pathway for a New Mediterranean

Emerging phytoplasma diseases of stone fruits and other crops and their possible impact on EU Countries, Istanbul (Turkey) December 1‐2, 2011 The attempt to give an answer to a real need is the practical way that is able to overcome the barriers between states and peoples, inevitably fostering their meeting and bearing, in this case literally, good fruit. Proof of this is the path that led to the conference held in Istanbul on 2nd December, organised by a European project (COST-ACTION FA0807) on the diseases hitting almond and peach trees, which have been studied for some time now in Lebanon in a collaboration between the Universities of Milan and Turin, the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, various Lebanese universities and the international organisation AVSI. This project, initially financed by the Italian Cooperation, has progressively spread from Lebanon to include other Mediterranean nations. Created to study how to eliminate the diseases blighting the Lebanese agriculture and other Mediterranean countries, the team work has taken on the shape of a multi-form challenge: a technical challenge for the researchers, a social and economic challenge for those working to improve the quality of life of both the farmers and consumers, an ecological challenge for those working to promote the balance of the landscape and biodiversity. The work carried out previous to the Istanbul conference involved the close interaction between the world of research and that of development cooperation: dozens of technicians and researchers collaborated to try and understand the extent of the disease, to find ways of preventing the epidemic and answers for the farmers. Thanks to a fruitful scientific partnership between Lebanese research bodies (American University of Beirut, Lebanese agricultural research institute, the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik and the Lebanese University) and Italian ones (Universities of Milan and Turin), in the first year alone the project involved hundreds of fruit growers and periodically examined almost one thousand orchards distributed in hundreds of Lebanese villages belonging to the project.

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