A new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on "green" taxation commends Israeli farmers for learning to respond to water cutbacks and price rises while increasing production.
The report, dealing with taxes intended to reduce the consumption of resources like water in various countries, says water prices for farmers in Israel have risen in the last decade, while freshwater quotas have been cut. Despite this, Israeli farmers have increased their production. For example, fruit farmers, whose water quotas were cut by one third in the decade's first half, increased production by 42 percent.
When freshwater prices began to rise, the farmers responded by using only three-quarters of their quota, the report says.
The farmers adapted to the new conditions by expanding the use of treated wastewater and using more efficient irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation.
The farmers in Israel managed to increase their agricultural production fourfold per cubic water meter over four decades, the report says.
The Water Authority has recently said it plans to cut farming freshwater quotas yet again. The farmers strongly object.
The report says encouraging reducing domestic water consumption could put off building expensive desalination plants. For example, a 5 percent savings in domestic water consumption in urban areas is equal to the production of a medium-sized desalination facility.
The report says Israel has introduced numerous limitations on using water, like washing cars or watering gardens, but they are generally not enforced.
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