Fresh produce prices continue to skyrocket today, due to Operation Protective Edge. The wholesale price of tomatoes has jumped 47% since the beginning of the operation, and its price this morning was NIS 6.5-6.8 per kilogram. Melon is up sharply, more than 180%, with a wholesale price of NIS 5.6-6.0 per kilogram this morning.
Cauliflower was also up sharply, reaching NIS 7.6-8.0 per kilogram, up 130% since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. Cabbage was up 46%.
Farmers in southern Israel explain that due to nonstop rocket fire into Israel, and the fighting in Gaza, and the refusal of some farmers to work, they are unable to harvest regularly.
According to Aharon Bitton, a farmer from Kibbutz Erez, “We are working full-steam in neutral. On Friday, we didn’t work. On Saturday, we didn’t work. The workers don’t want to work. The Thai, Bedouin, and Sudanese workers are all fleeing out of fear. Those do who work, work but are scared.”
This morning, Bitton found himself with only 6 out of 24 workers, and the shipments of agricultural produce, which are usually made daily, are also running late.
According to Bitton, “The greenhouses have no protection [from rockets], and it wouldn’t help if they did. When they say ‘Red Alert,’ there are no sirens. They say you have fifteen seconds to enter a safe room, and that’s garbage, because it’s not even five seconds. You hear ‘Red Alert’ and the impact at the same time. I send consignments out only when I can, and only when we have authorization from the regional defense officer to approach the kibbutz fence. It is safe to assume that the tomato prices will rise, because the farmers are not harvesting, the workers don’t want to work, and you can’t force them to.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 20, 2014
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