Allowing more Gaza-grown vegetables to be marketed in Israel is in everyone’s interest

The price of tomatoes in Israel is going up again and once more raising the question of why more tomatoes can’t come in from Gaza.  Ministry of Agriculture. Extend marketing quota. high price tomatoes.

Tomatoes for sale in Tel Aviv, yesterday. Photo: Gisha.

April 20, 2017. Tomato prices in Israel are skyrocketing: one kilogram of tomatoes can be found for sale for as much as 12 shekels (roughly 3 dollars per kg) in some areas of the country. The high price, a result of short supply, has again prompted the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture to declare that customs duties will be waived, enabling import of tomatoes from Turkey or Spain.

And yet, there’s a simple, attainable and immediate solution that could provide the Israeli market with an abundance of high-quality vegetables as early as tomorrow: expanding the marketing of produce from the Gaza Strip to Israel (Hebrew). Since 2015, Israel has allowed a small quantity of agricultural produce from Gaza to be sold within its borders. Only eggplants and tomatoes are permitted for marketing in Israel, limited to a quota of 400 tons a month.

Farmers in Gaza are both able and willing to market larger amounts of produce to Israel. The quantities of vegetables sold to their many happy clients in the West Bank are testament to this fact. In the first quarter of 2017, 783 truckloads of agricultural produce left Gaza for the West Bank; in comparison, only 110 truckloads of tomatoes and eggplants were marketed to Israel during this time. In Gaza, a kilogram of tomatoes is currently being sold for as little as 2 shekels (0.5 dollars). Expanding the marketing of produce to Israel will support the livelihoods of many individuals, contribute to an overall improvement in Gaza’s economy and reduce price for Israeli consumers. The Ministry of Agriculture should approve expanding marketing of produce from Gaza immediately. It is the most reasonable, appropriate and fair solution to the situation.