Since its outbreak in 2013 in Italy, the harmful bacterium Xylella fastidiosa has continued to spread throughout the Euro-Mediterranean basin and, more recently, in the Middle East region. Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa is the causal agent of Pierce’s disease on grapevines.
At present, this alien subspecies has not been reported in Lebanon but if this biological invader was to spread with no cost-effective and sustainable management, it would put Lebanese vineyards at a certain level of risk. In the absence of an Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa outbreak, the gross revenue generated by Lebanese wine growers is estimated as close to US$22 million/year for an average period of 5 years (2015–2019).
The potential quantitative economic impacts of an Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa outbreak and particularly, the private control costs have not been as- sessed yet for this country as well as for others which Xylella fastidiosa may invade. Here, we have aimed to estimate the potential direct economic impact on growers’ livelihoods and provide the first estimate of the private management costs that a theoretical Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa outbreak in Lebanon would involve.
For this purpose, we used a Partial Budget approach at the farm gate. For the country as a whole, we estimated that a hypothetical full spread of Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa on Lebanese wine grapes would lead to maximum potential gross revenue losses of almost US$ 11 million for an average recovery period of 4 years, to around US$ 82.44 million for an average grapevine life span period of 30 years in which infected plants are not replaced at all.
The first yearly estimated additional management cost is US$ 853 per potentially infected hectare. For a recovery period of 4 years, the aggregate estimated additional cost would reach US$2374/ha, while the aggregate net change in profit would be US$-4046/ha. Furthermore, additional work will be needed to estimate the public costs of an Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa outbreak in Lebanon. The observed costs in this study support the concerned policy makers and stakeholders to implement a set of reduction management options against Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa at both national and wine growers’ levels. This re-emerging alien biota should not be neglected in this country. This understanding of the potential direct economic impact of Xylella fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa and the private management costs can also benefit further larger-scale studies covering other potential infection areas and plant hosts.