TEL AVIV (May. 14)
Israel’s citrus industry–one of the most important in the country–has deteriorated to a point where it faces a 60 percent drop in the planting of groves as compared with ten years ago, it was revealed this week-end at a conference of the Israel’s Farmers Federation.
Itzhak Rokach, one of the leading executives of the Federation, reported that while 300,000 dunams (75,000 acres) of land were planted in citrus groves a decade ago, only 130,000 dunams are planted today. He also revealed that only 4,500,000 cases of citrus fruits were exported from Israel this year as compared with 15,000,000 cases shipped ten years ago.
Various speakers pointed out that military obligations and other basic factors were responsible for the decline in the industry. However, they stated that there is a good demand abroad for Israel citrus products and urged the government to assist the Farmers Federation in its expansion efforts.
Replying to criticism of the government for its alleged failure to support the industry, Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan denied that the government discriminates against private farming. He said that the government is deeply concerned with every aspect of Israel’s economy.