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March 02, 1984 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-03-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

14 Friday, March 2, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

O

Israeli Agriculture Is Coping

There's a new Cat
in Town!

By ERIKA OYSERMAN

LINCOLN
MARK VII
CONTINENTAL

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Service
JERUSALEM — Strol-
ling through Israel's open
food markets is a culinary
experience, revealing a
horn of plenty. Yet, how
much of this plenty can the
Israeli afford today with the
growing inflation prevail-
ing in the country and signs
of the beginning of an eco-
nomic slow-down?
Statistics issued by the
Food Division of the Minis-
try of Industry and Trade
for the years 1979-1980
show that the real output in
the food industry continue
to rise at a modest rate of 3.2
percent per annum and that
about 61 percent of the
entire output in 1980 was
aimed at the private con-
sumer. This has not
changed since.
In that period there was

World Zionist Press

962-0354

already a drop of 7.2 percent
in dairy product consump-
tion, a drop in the consump-
tion of bakery and flour

products, and in the con-
sumption of frozen vegeta-
bles. Poultry, meat and fish
consumption went up by 11

percent, oil and margarine
by some six percent, choco-
late and sugar by 6.5 per-
cent.
The processing of
foods, side by side with
one of the most sophisti-
cated agricultural set-
ups in the world, pushed
up agricultural produc-
tion 'dramatically. Thus
in the last decade, Israel
became a net exporter of
fresh and processed food.
Due to technological ad-
vancement, exports ex-
ceeded imports by a wide
margin in the case of
processed foods.
Now an unfavorable dol-
lar rate of exchange has led
to shrinking profits for Is-

rael's farmers since most of
their raw material and
energy bills are paid in
American dollars.
Competition in the Euro-

pean market from Morocco
and Spain could have been
overcome thanks to Israel's
technological advances and
research were it not for the
growing inflation prevail-
ing in the country. Exports
of citrus fruit, for instance,
are the central pillar of Is-
rael's agricultural exports,
representing a good 75 per-

cent of all fresh fruit and
vegetables exported. While

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19
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they have had ups and
downs in the past, since
January 1983 the branch
has suffered heavily.
Kurt Heinberg, public re-
lations director of the Israel
Citrus Marketing Board
said in January 1983: "We
earn 80 percent of our ex-
port revenue from Europe,
which normally suffers
from a constant 25 to 30 per-
cent citrus surplus. Today,
there are millions of unem-
ployed in Europe who can't
afford our fruit and many
others who spend less be-
cause of economic instabil-
ity."
In December 1983,
while the London house-
wife paid for one
grapefruit as much as Is-
rael's housewife pays for
one kilogram (2.2
pounds), Israeli farmers
declared that they were
losing $120 million on ex-
ports of fresh fruit and
vegetables because of the
rate of exchange for the
dollar.
To add insult to injury,
when tons of fruit directed
for the European Christmas
market reached the port of
Ashdod in the first week of
December 1983, farmers
faced another calamity: a
stevedore slow-down strike.
The fruit was air-freighted
to Cyprus for Europe.
Above all, however, Is-
raeli farmers blame the
government for lack of
planning in agricultural
output for both domestic
needs and exports. Hitting
back, the Ministry of Ag-
riculture announced that
according to a survey it im-
plemented,sorbe-40. percent

of the farms in Israel, repre-
senting some 7,000 farming
units, are facing heavy
debts needing $75-$100 mil-
lion for rehabilitation.
"In its eagerness for set-
tling people on the land,"
concludes the survey, "the
government had not consid-
ered that only 30 percent of
the agricultural units are
self-dependent." No won-
der, if this is so, that the
ministry faces problems of
agricultural profitability.
The Israeli housewife can
still manage on condition
she shops in the open
markets. An abundance
of eggplant, cauliflower,
cabbage, marrows, to-
matoes and parsimmons
selling at 20 to 40 cents
per kilogram are still
available. The rest is up
the ingenuity of the Is-
raeli housewife.
She can draw from an un-
limited number of cooking
books of all ethnic varia-
tions, and the services of
women's pages in daily and
weekly newspapers. The
latter excel in recipes mak-
ing good use of cheap fruits
and vegetables in season.
Israel's farmers say,
"Farming in Israel is a way
of life. It is the fulfillment of
Zionism. All efforts of the
government should concen-
trate on solving our prob-
lems, by helping us sell our
products at their real value.
We don't want alternative
jobs: the return of the
Jewish people to the land is
what Israel is about.

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