JERUSALEM (Sep. 11)
In a two-hour speech defending the governments food policy Minister of Agriculture Pinchas Lavon last night told the Israel Parliament that despite “unprecedented obstacles” major strides were made in the past year in improving the country’s agricultural production.
Minister Lavon listed three chief obstacles which he said had done the most to hinder the government’s plans to expand food production. They were: 1. The drought, which forced the expenditure of 6,000,000 pounds more than had been planned for food and cattle; 2. The Korean War, which inflated prices of various items from 20 to 50 percent and transport as much as 100 percent. In addition, certain items, such as irrigation pipe, became completely unavailable. 3. Israel’s foreign currency situation worsened, with less foreign currency becoming available in the face of rising costs and increasing population.
Despite these obstacles, Mr. Lavon declared, Israel’s agricultural production had been increased by extending the area under cultivation by some 100,000 acres, with another 100,000 acres planned by next summer. Also, despite the pipe short age, Israel had extended its irrigation system by another 20,000 acres. He pointed out that because of the pipe shortage and the growing population of the country it would be necessary to intensify dry farming by the use of more labor.
The Minister revealed that the fishing industry is also being expanded with the result that the country will soon be from 60 to 66 percent self-sufficient. He admitted the failure of the government potato program, disclosing that many farmers had sold the potatoes distributed to them for seed purposes. He pledged a better distribution program for the future and revealed that plans had been made for improving the meat and fat supply. However, he warned that September would be a “difficult” month.