As Ukraine War Threatens to Cause Food Shortage, Israel Announces New Policy

Grain and fodder prioritized at Israeli airports; domestic agriculture to be strengthened, Transportation Minister Michaeli says

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
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Ashdod port, Israel, in 2021
Ashdod port, Israel, in 2021Credit: Ilan Assayag
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Cargo ships carrying grain and fodder “will be given priority in unloading” at Israeli ports over the coming month due to shortage concerns brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli’s office reported on Thursday.

“We face challenges to our food security at the moment due to the worrying developments in Ukraine,” Michaeli said. “The State of Israel must protect its food security by strengthening our domestic agriculture.

Taking steps to get the grain and fodder that Israeli agriculture relies on into the country quickly will ensure that we maintain Israeli food security despite the changes around the world.”

The new policy was announced only days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett discussed the issue of food security with his counterparts from Egypt and Abu Dhabi at a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ukraine's spring crop sowing area may more than halve this year from 2021 levels to some 7 million hectares, its Agriculture Minister Roman Leshchenko said on Tuesday, versus 15 million hectares expected before the Russian invasion.

Ukraine is a major global agriculture producer and exporter, and the hostilities may sharply reduce the 2022 harvest and exports in the forthcoming 2022/23 season, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling the Italian parliament on Tuesday that Russia's attack risked causing famine in countries around the world.

Earlier this month, Osem, the third-largest food producer in Israel, cancelled a planned price increase for hundreds of items sold in Israeli supermarkets, including such staples as ketchup, instant coffee, breakfast cereal, pasta, flour and the popular peanut-based Bamba snack, due to public backlash.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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