Southern Israel farmers are under threat from the government's import policies of agriculture products from Turkey and the Palestinian authority.
Products are being imported at a "below-cost price for the Israeli farmer, a price that the Israeli farmer cannot compete with," said Eitan Guedj, a farmer at Moshav Zofar in the Central Arava Regional Council.
After having produced approximately 20 tons of zucchini, Guedj was forced to stop harvesting for the lack of market to sell his production.
"The citizens of Israel will eat zucchini from Turkey and the West Bank and the Israeli zucchini that we grow here on Israeli land and in the Arava will be thrown in the garbage."
Israeli farmers are under severe controls from the Ministry of Agriculture regarding the selling of their products to the local market, claiming that government import policies are less severe, and imports enter the country without any checks and necessary costs.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the agricultural import policy is determined based on the balance between the need to protect domestic production and the need to allow free imports under conditions of fair competition, while ensuring ongoing supply and reasonable prices to the consumer.
Through import policies, the ministry also aims to solve problems related to the shortfall of certain food products through temporary tariff reduction and meet the needs of the food industries, which sometimes suffers from shortage of locally produced raw materials.
Over the holidays in September, however, farmers claimed that the Ministry of Agriculture allowed for import of tomatoes from Turkey, even though there was no shortage and the prices were reasonable.
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