Any attentive Israeli who has bought extra supplies for their various holiday recipes may have noticed that produce prices are higher than usual. Those prices are likely to grow higher still. The recent heat wave that spread throughout the region literally burned Israel’s vegetable crops, resulting in massive waste that has forced farmers to raise prices to recover their loss.
Burned on the vine
According to a report in Ha’aretz, some greenhouse temperatures exceeded 70 degrees Celsius over the summer, destroying crops on the vine.
“The heat burned the tomato flowers’ stamens,” a farmer on Moshav Yeted, David Kushmero, told the paper, “which means they won’t be fertilized and bear fruit.”
As a result, farmers have experienced an accumulated loss of tens of millions of Shekels, or roughly three million US Dollars, a loss that they bear individually.
“Since the growers’ insurance does not cover damage from heat waves, the farmers will be paying for the damage themselves,” according to writers Amiram Cohen and Haim Bior.
In order to help alleviate this burden, the Vegetable Growers Association has put in an appeal to the Israeli government to declare the heat wave a national disaster, which would give farmers access to government assistance.
“While no vegetables are expected to disappear altogether from the market, prices are going to be increasing, even though they’re already higher than usual for the season,” wrote Cohen and Bior.
The crops most affected are cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs, as well as melons and watermelons, and consumers can expect to feel the pinch during the holidays. At the onset of winter, the reporters add that the country could experience a tomato shortage.
“At this time last year, I was getting 43 tons of tomatoes per greenhouse dunam, and this year I won’t get even three tons,” Mr. Kushmero said.
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