Cotton harvest in the South 370.
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
In an effort to strengthen the country’s farming future, the new Knesset
agricultural caucus will open on Monday with a primary focus on encouraging
young people to enter the industry, its chairman, MK Zvulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi)
announced ahead of the launch.
“We will push the state to invest in and
provide incentives for young farmers,” said Kalfa. “We must take care of
protecting generational continuity in Israeli agriculture.”
Led by Kalfa,
MK Omer Bar- Lev (Labor) and MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), the 19th Knesset’s
agricultural caucus will officially open on Monday, and will promote legislative
issues related to agriculture and rural spaces, as well as work to increase the
number of young people who pursue the field by promoting an integrated national
plan, according to its leaders.
Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, Economy
and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel
and other MKs, mayors and heads of regional movements are scheduled to attend
The caucus will also aim to preserve and make use of the vast
agricultural knowledge and experience accumulated in Israel over the past 65
years of farming, in order to help research centers employ these tools as a
lever for economic activity, Kalfa and his partners explained.
significant threat on the Israeli agricultural world is an existential one,”
said Kalfa, who grew up in Moshav Sharsheret, used to be involved in the citrus
business and was a former member of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council
“The average age of those engaging in agriculture is 60, and the
young people rarely work in the field,” he continued.
“Unless we act
soon, we will lose the experience and knowledge accumulated by veteran farmers
Vaknin, who grew up in Moshav Ya’ara in the Western
Galilee, and has been a member of the Knesset agricultural caucus since 1996,
emphasized that the main issue he too intends to promote in the caucus is the
“If we want the future of agriculture to be taken care
of in another 10-15 years, the key will be the young generation developing and
growing crops,” Vaknin said.
Also critical to ongoing discussion will be
handling the problems of agricultural water allocations and prices, as well as
the critical labor shortage that hampers “the advancement of the agricultural
sector,” according to Vaknin.
Bar-Lev – a graduate of the Hebrew
University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot and formerly an agronomist at the
agriculture experimental center in Yotvata – stressed that during the primaries
of his party he was exposed to various problems facing the agricultural sector,
including its diminished representation in the Knesset. He therefore has decided
to help address the many difficulties facing growers, including the marketing of
agricultural products and other economic challenges, he explained.
going to focus on advancing the development of agriculture and aiding the
agricultural sector, which represents today as well as the past, entrepreneurial
Zionism that is active and valued,” Bar-Lev said.
In response to the
newly established goals of the agricultural caucus, Shamir told The Jerusalem
Post that the caucus will be an essential partner with the ministry in further
developing the country’s agricultural sector.
“The policy of the
Agriculture Ministry is first and foremost to strengthen the country’s
settlement in Israel, and agriculture is one of the most important means toward
implementing a settlement policy along with strengthening important social and
health values,” Shamir said. “I see the agricultural caucus as an important
partner in promoting these values for developing the periphery, transforming
agriculture into a meaningful economic sector in the market – while increasing
exports, jobs and preservation of environmental and nature
“Meanwhile, activity among young people will help in implementing
these values in the long-term.”