Farmers organisations in Israel requested the government to take immediate action to issue entry permits for at least 5000 foreign workers, to replace Palestinian workers who no longer work in Israeli farms, due to the hostilities in the region. Farmers organisations called on the Prime Minister Ehud Barak to personally involve himself in this issue, "to save the export season of fresh produce which has just started," according to Shaul Simchon, Chairman of Israel's Central Farmers Organisation.

Harvesting of dates in the Jordan Valley and in the Arava regions in Israel is a "burning issue," since harvest timing of dates is critical to preserve the quality of fruit and enable the processing and packing for export. The bulk of Israeli dates are supplied to the multiples and other sales points in Europe in late November and through December to meet the pre-Christmas and New Year demand. Jordan Valley farmers called on the Minister of Labour to issue "without delay" entry permits for 200 workers from Thailand to work in the country's date plantations.

61% volume shortfall
Meanwhile, the export of citrus from Israel from the beginning of the season until October 14 is down 61% in quantities compared with the volume exported during the same period last year. The season started with shipments to Europe of early ripening grapefruits and the Sweetie variety.

Citrus trade sources in Tel Aviv commented that in view of the continuous decline of the euro against the dollar, Israeli citrus exporters are now focusing their export and marketing activities to penetrate new markets in the "dollar markets," mainly in the Far East and South East Asia.