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Palestine Presses Grain Production, Seeking Freedom from Imports

In order to make the country less dependent upon imports in the present war, the Palestine Government has given considerable encouragement to grain production, particularly wheat and barley, the Agriculture Department reported today.

Some expansion in acreage was reported in 1940 and a 20 to 25 per cent increase is expected this year. Favorable weather conditions and increased acreage combined to produce record harvests of 4,997,000 bushels of wheat from 575,000 acres and 4,730,000 bushels of barley from 475,000 acres.

While official trade figures were not released for 1940, reports from the American consulate in Palestine indicate that imports of wheat and flour from Syria were small, because of the failure to negotiate a new trade agreement after the French armistice. Some effort was made to replace these imports by shipments from Iraq, but inadequate transportation facilities has hampered this move.

However, it was reported that a firm in London has recently been made the Government’s agent and has succeeded in purchasing large quantities of soft wheat and flour from Australia.

Normally Palestine is dependent upon imports for the bulk of her grain supply. Imports of wheat totaled 2,794,000 bushels in 1939 and of flour, 274,000 barrels.

Hard wheat is obtained from Syria, Transjordan and Canada, while Australia is the principal soft wheat source. More than half the flour imported in 1939 came from the United States. Barley imports amounted to only 896,000 bushels in 1939, of which Syria supplied 845,000 and Transjordan, 551,000 bushels.

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