In attempt to bring down fruit and vegetable prices for Israeli consumers over the upcoming holidays, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said he has decided to remove customs restrictions on tomato and cucumber imports from around the world.Ariel’s decision occurred after a string of summer heat waves caused fruits and vegetables to prematurely ripen, resulting in a sizable decrease in the produce available, according to the minister’s office. The reduced supply has led to a rise in prices on supermarket shelves as a result.“Unfortunately, as a result of the heat wave, a shortage of vegetables and fruits occurred, and prices are rising,” Ariel said. “This is the reality we are trying to prevent particularly on the eve of the holidays. Therefore, I instructed my ministry personnel to immediately facilitate the intensive import of fruits and vegetables from Jordan and other countries, in order to overcome the shortage and once again decrease prices, while ensuring that Israeli farmers and produce are not harmed.”Ariel instructed officials in the Agriculture Ministry to certify that members of the public will have access to supplies of fresh, high-quality and reasonably priced food during the upcoming holidays, his office explained. To accomplish this task, the minister decided to allow duty-free imports of tomatoes and cucumbers from a variety of countries, in addition to the incoming Jordanian produce that has already been exempt from customs fees for years, the ministry added.The move to increase fruit and vegetable imports comes less than a month after Ariel likewise decided to ease the import of meat products from cows, sheep and goats, also in light of anticipated shortages and rising prices ahead of the holidays. In addition, just two weeks ago, the Agriculture Ministry approved a similar boost in egg imports.