The investments will focus in equal proportions on the development of varieties of avocado, dates and bananas with the primary aim to increase yields and exports, improve fruit quality by reducing the impact of inclement weather conditions.
Substantial sums, resources and ideas are already being devoted to ensure Israeli agriculture’s long-term future in general and the prospects of the above-mentioned three crops in particular. Zvi Alon, the CEO at the Plants’ Production and Marketing Board explained further that similarly to most developed countries the number of farmers in Israel continues to decline steadily yet the value of agricultural production remains stable at about 30 billion NIS annually with an increased range of different crops and good quality fruit.
The current initiatives will concern two important export crops – avocado and dates in addition to bananas for local consumption.
While avocado exports reached 61,000 tons valued at around 100 million dollars in the 2016-17 season, 35,000 tons of dates were exported and produced an income of 120 million dollars. This new initiative seeks to solve the problem associated with the alternate fruit bearing cycles in the orchards and thereby maintain the current 6% growth rate. This project receives from the avocado industry an additional 4 million NIS annually for R&D.
The investment in dates focuses on improving the export quality of the leading date variety – Medjool to help the industry compete on the developing world markets. This crop is most important for the Arava and Jordan Valley regions.
Bananas for the local market are the mainstay crop for the Western Galilee region, Carmel coastal area and the Jordan Valley. The area of 2,500 hectares planted with bananas yielded 140,000 tons during 2016-7. Here the initiative is aimed at improving the industry’s excellent agricultural results by increasing protection against environmental and climatic damage.