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Cases of palms with red weevil infestation drop 23 per cent

foto presentacio balanc becut vermellBartomeu Escandell, the rural affairs councillor of the Formentera Council (CiF), together with Laura Pérez, operations manager of CiF Office of Agriculture, and Juan Argente, works technician at GRUPO TRAGSA, shared their assessment of the push to eradicate the red palm weevil from Formentera.

Escandell underscored a more than 23 per cent reduction in affected trees since 2015 and a one quarter drop in the total weevil population. The encouraging figures indicate that sustained efforts to wipe out the pest —the campaign is currently running a €46,000 tab, with €16k from the Govern and another €28k of the Council's money— is worthwhile.

That money has provided renewed steam to the measures that began in 2014 and helped cut costs (between €150 and €200 per tree) for private citizens treating palms affected by the pest. The response has turned on more stringent checks of imported trees, technical support for homeowners, practical training and professional consultancy, adjustments made to permit granting, preventive treatment on trees in public areas, tracking purchases from garden centres and an awareness raising campaign.

The response has also entailed field surveys, which have put the number of palm trees at 4,508 locally, as well as efforts to detect affected palms, monitor work of trained professionals and collect and dispose of associated waste not to mention maintaining traps to track population changes and carry out mass captures of adult weevils.

Traps and affected palms
In 2015, two-thousand twenty-one weevils were caught after traps were placed across the island as part of a four-month campaign. This year the efforts were extended across 12 months and ended in 1,721 insects being captured, or 22.5 per cent less than the previous year. As for the number of trees affected by the weevil, the 2015 figure of 159 stands against 122 affected this year — 23.7 per cent less.

The figures point to a turnaround in the trend of the pest's dispersal and a hampering of the exponential growth for which it is known. The island's weevil numbers have slumped at the same time that costs facing owners of infected palms have fallen as well. In addition, the representatives highlighted improvements made in waste management at Formentera's rubbish tip.

The officials recommended continuing current efforts, intensifying them in spots where the pest is less pervasive and cordoning off areas of priority control in an effort eliminate the pest from them in the short term. Aside from recommending the traps be maintained in zones where the weevils are most prevalent, the officials pointed to the possibility of testing other types of traps as well, some of them commercially-available.

“Farmland Reserve, a year in photos” drops in at la Mola's community centre

foto inauguracio mostra cens de terresYesterday, Sunday December 18, the Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture invited islanders to come out for the opening of Farmland Reserve, a year in photos at la Mola's Casa del Poble. Following exhibition at the municipal gallery in Sant Francesc, the stop in la Mola is aimed at bringing the show to many of the protagonists that constitute it. CiF president Jaume Ferrer and rural affairs councillor Bartomeu Escandell were joined at the event by other officials and residents of the area.

Eva Parey's collection of photos focusses on the maiden year of a project known as Cens de Terres de Cultiu (roughly translatable as “farmland reserve”). The initiative, which the Council has undertaken together with the local farmers' co-operative, is designed to revive Formentera's primary sector and conserve local landscapes. A video was screened during the presentation which paired a review of the previous year's work with poetry from Marià Villangómez and music from UC and Aires Formenterencs.

Council drives push for land-use inspections

MIRADOR PREMSAThe Formentera Council's Office of Land has announced the December start of a push to ensure compliance with urban and rural land-use regulations. At this morning's announcement, CiF land councillor Alejandra Ferrer pointed out that “inspections will focus on illegal construction projects, illegal storage units and construction material, waste and abandoned or stored vehicles on rural plots”.

Crews will highlight any and all activity “that contributes to environmental destruction or violates of land-use regulations”. The controls, explained Ferrer, are part of an effort to beautify the local rural landscape and thwart illegal activity on rural land.

The Council's land office will contact the chamber of commerce and the association of small and medium-sized businesses and request their help sharing information about the campaign.

Photo exhibit: Looking back at a year of Farmland Reserve

foto inauguracio expo un any de cens de terres de cultiuYesterday, Tuesday, November 7 at 8.00pm, the Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture hosted the opening of photographer Eva Parey's exhibition looks at the past twelve months of a local project to revive deserted plots of land. Present at the launch of Un any de Cens de Terres de Cultiu (Farmland Reserve: a year in photos) were CiF culture councillor Susana Labrador, rural affairs councillor Bartomeu Escandell, Formentera Farmers' Cooperative director Carlos Marí, the photographer herself, other officials and local residents.

Comprised of thirty-some photos, the collection documents the first year of an initiative called Cens de Terres de Cultiu. The project is backed by the Formentera Council and the Farmers' Cooperative, an organisation of farmers dedicated to reviving the local primary sector and conserving Formentera's natural landscapes.

With the arrival of tourism in the 1960s and 1970s, many fields in the Formentera countryside fell into disuse. Now, with the help of the initiative and thanks to the generosity of landowners who have handed over property to the reserve, many fields are once again being tilled. The initiative helps revive a vocation unique to Formentera, the work of the “pagès” (farmer), at the same time that it protects the area this work takes place, the countryside, with its stone walls, mowed fields and fig trees with their long, propped up branches. Another aim of the project is for local livestock, another keystone feature of the Formentera landscape, to once again have pastureland.

Farmland Reserve is now one year old. Eva Parey, a specialist in photo journalism, has documented the 12 moons that have come and gone in that time, the phases of a year spent farming, clearing shrubbery, tilling fields, sowing seeds, working the land and harvesting to begin sowing once again ... A selection of photos that reflects this laborious work, the process and its protagonists.

Screened during the premiere was a video capturing the work done over the last year. The event also included poetry from Marià Villangómez and music from UC and Aires Formenterencs.

Formentera offers 15 courses in agriculture and livestock farming

blat amparo arias premsaThe Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture announced that this Monday, October 31, enrolment will begin for continuing education opportunities in produce and livestock farming during the 2016-2017 season. The calendar, which starts November 11 with a course on farming machinery, will continue through the end of March.

Department chair Bartomeu Escandell laid out his office's goal: “Assure a wide variety of courses and training opportunities, open to the public, for the island's farming and livestock sectors”. In autumn 2016 and winter 2017 a total of 15 courses are available in farming, animal husbandry and even gardening, with a course on drought-resistant plants filling out the catalogue.

Such courses aim to meet the need for “specialised training in agriculture, livestock rearing and agrofood,” said Escandell, as well as offer “basic training for individuals interested in the rural sector”.

Instruction will be given in the following areas: Agricultural machinery, Waste and fertiliser management, Biofertilisers, Basic pesticide use in professional industry, Beekeeping, Fig tree pruning, Fruit tree pruning, Olive tree pruning, Organic ecology, Integrated control of the red palm weevil, Introduction to stone wall repairs, Good health on small ruminant animal farms, Food handling, Xeriscaping and Integrated vineyard production.

The classes, which are free and combine both theory and its practical application, last between 5 and 25 hours and will be held at Centre Antoni Tur “Gabrielet”.

Anyone interested in signing up should visit the Citizen's Information Office in person from 9.00am to 2.00pm, do it online via OVAC, request info through the Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture by calling 971.32.10.87 extensions 3166 and 3165, or contact agricultura@conselldeformentera.cat. Enrolment will remain open as long as there is space available to ensure proper instruction.

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