As the harvest season approaches, Israel's olive farmers are asking the Agriculture Ministry to delay plans to import olives from Jordan.
There will likely be excess demand for olives this year, beyond what Israel grows itself, so industrial olive growers aren't opposed to the planned imports per se, said Zvi Alon, head of the Plants Production and Marketing Board. The question is when.
Manufacturers of preserved olives want imports to start in September, to minimize the chance of running out of raw olives. But the farmers fear that instead of a lack, this may cause an excess of olives in Israel's market, and as a result the local crops may not be fully used. They want the import postponed until October.
The Agriculture Ministry recently estimated that this year's olive crop will come in 6,000 to 9,000 tons short of demand. Israel's olive industry uses 17,000 tons of olives.
Alon called for allowing olive imports in September only if it turns out that Israel's crop is not meeting the industry's needs.
Israel has a trade agreement with Jordan that allows for importing fruits and vegetables duty-free based on Israel's market needs. The Agriculture Ministry decides when certain produce items are lacking, and decides on imports in order to keep local prices stable.
The Agriculture Ministry stated in response that it takes growers, industry and consumers into account, noting that this year's harvest was likely to be smaller than last year's.