The Israeli agriculture minister has announced what he described as “the greatest reform that has been made in agriculture in the last 30 years”.
Minister Oded Forer’s five-year plan is aimed at forcing down prices while introducing competition from imports, primarily from the European Union.
It should lead to a greater range of produce in Israel’s shops and lower prices, particularly for fruits, vegetables and eggs.
There is to be a gradual reduction in tariffs for all fruit and vegetables and immediate price cuts for products such as avocados, garlic, peas, figs and artichokes.
To increase imports from the EU, Israel is to recognise European standards for fruits and vegetables.
Egg farmers will be helped to upgrade their chicken coops and awarded direct subsidies for each egg produced.
Israeli farmers, however, are concerned that they will be undercut by imports.
Moti Alkabetz, secretary-general of the Poultry Breeders Association in Israel, said: “The egg industry supports 3,000 egg growers, with 2,000 of those in moshavs on the Lebanese border. What Hezbollah has been trying to do for many years, Liberman (the Israeli finance minister) is doing in one slice.”
However, Mr Forer said: “We are launching an agricultural revolution in favour of consumers, innovation and farmers.”
The programme implements the recommendation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Dev-elopment (OECD).