Emergency fund seeks to rebuild Israeli farming communities

Ripe pomegranate fruits on the branches of trees in the garden.
Rows of pomegranate trees with ripe fruits on the branches in a garden.

Volcani International Partnerships, Israel’s leading Agricultural NGO, and Western Negev Farmers on Tuesday announced the launch of ReGrow Israel – an emergency fund that will help to revive and restore the farming communities affected by Hamas’s devastating attacks on October 7.

The organizations stated in a press release that the project will seek to raise $50mn. They said that this will be given immediately to farmers to help offset their losses – which include more than $500mn in income; over 100,000 acres of agricultural land; equipment such as tractors, plows, and fertilizer spreaders; and infrastructure and irrigation systems.

According to the press release, the 45 Kibbutzim and Moshavim agricultural communities that are located in the Western Negev region will receive support from scientists, applied R&D experts, agronomists, and global technology leaders to determine how best to distribute the funding.

The land around the occupied Gaza Strip is highly fertile, and is described by the Israeli agriculture ministry as ‘Israel’s vegetable patch’. Media outlets in the country say that the area produces 75% of Israel’s vegetables, 20% of its fruit, and 6.5% of its milk.

According to reporting from the Associated Press, Uri Dorman, the general-secretary of the Israel Farmers Association believes that it is likely to take two to three years for Israel’s agricultural industry to recover from the unprecedented crisis it has been experiencing.

In addition to the losses of land, produce, and equipment, the country, which has relied very heavily on foreign laborers, has been struggling to find agricultural workers. In the aftermath of the cross-border attacks, 10,000 Thai workers left Israel, while the vast majority of Palestinians were barred from entering. Israel has said that it is seeking to bring in laborers from Sri Lanka and Vietnam to redress the shortfall.

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