Minister calls for suspension of tomato import duties

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon requests move to allow immediate importation of 2000 tons of tomatoes to relieve shortage in Israeli market.

tomatoes (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon on Friday requested that his ministry and the Tax Authority immediately suspend import duties on foreign-grown tomatoes to help alleviate the shortage of native-grown tomatoes.
The suspension of import duties on tomatoes will allow the quick importation of up to 2000 tons of tomatoes that will help reduce the price of the produce that has jumped dramatically in recent months as a result of the local shortage.
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The tomato shortage is temporary and will end within three weeks, according to Simhon.
In April, it was announced that a single gene discovered by Hebrew University and US researchers promises to produce tomatoes – one of Israelis’ favorite vegetables – in dramatically higher yields and with better taste.
The research, which was published in the online version of Nature Genetics, was carried out by researchers at the university’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York.
The newly discovered gene controls when plants make flowers and works in different varieties of tomato. In addition, it can boost yield and taste when the plants are grown in a variety of environmental conditions.
The discovery was patented by Yissum, HU’s technology transfer arm, which is seeking partners for further development and commercialization.
“This discovery has tremendous potential to transform both the billion-dollar tomato industry, as well as agricultural practices designed to get the [highest] yield from other flowering crops,” says CSHL’s Dr. Zach Lippman, one of the three authors of the study.