Olive groves across Puglia are set to be destroyed by a vicious plant disease, which is predicted to spread across the Mediterranean in the coming years. Millions of trees have already been lost, devastating the local economy, landscape and people. As one of the biggest contributors to the local economy, the olive industry is profoundly important to the local identity, culture and for financial survival.
As climate change continues to pose problems and by the void left behind by the eradication of large parts of Puglia’s olive agriculture, it also presents an opportunity in Puglia to cultivate a new crop – saffron – and bring a host of new industries and jobs. The high revenue plant has the potential to transform the landscape, sustain livelihoods and, most importantly, financially contribute to the preservation of existing olive trees, rescued from the dying groves: maintaining the historical identity of Puglia.
This is also important in the face of Italy’s financial and economic challenges which have historically and continue to affect the south of the country particularly hard.
The project is an attempt to guarantee the livelihoods and standard of living for the people in the region, providing jobs and preventing people from moving away. Another important goal is the preservation and reinterpretation of traditions and most importantly cautiously adapting to new conditions which make a new approach to agriculture, energy and water provision and tackling the hotter climate necessary.