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Israel vulnerable to food insecurity due to reliance on food imports, report warns

A shopkeeper sells food at a commercial area in Hebron, West Bank on September 01, 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
A shopkeeper sells food at a commercial area in Hebron, West Bank on September 01, 2020 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israel is growing too reliant on imports from other countries for its food supplies and making itself vulnerable to potential major food insecurity, a report has warned.

In a new report from The Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, Israeli Professor, Ayal Kimhi, outlined that Tel Aviv has become increasingly dependent onĀ international food imports, saying that it "may have some benefits in the short run, but it may also increase the risks to food security in the longer run".

He criticised the Israeli government's policies of reducing import tariffs on international produce to lower the cost of living as misguided, insisting that it only deepens reliance on imports and increases the risk of a major shortage in supplies in the near future in the case of a variety of challenges.

Significant challenges, he wrote, "could be [supply chain] disruptions, it could be higher prices in the future due to climate change and other factors; if we rely on imports and do not balance it with local production, we may expose ourselves to higher risk."

READ: Israel wasted food cost $6.2bn last year, reveals NGO

Instead, Kimhi recommended strengthening and reinvigorating development and production in the country's domestic agriculture industry, which has been surpassed in recent decades by Israel's focus on the hi-tech sector. "Agriculture cannot compete with hi-tech or food-tech, but if we want to maintain a portfolio of food sources, it has to include a significant fraction of local production, which is important to stabilise supply. If the international value chain is not functioning at some point in time due to global issues, then you need local production to make up for that".

While implementing technological advancements into agriculture, he said, "Right now, all the signals that are provided by the government are that agriculture is not important. And it is, it should be clear that agriculture is here to stay."

The Professor also cited income inequality and overpopulation in the country as significant challenges that need to be overcome, saying the latter results in "more mouths to feed" and "reduces the ability of the agriculture sector to provide sufficient food for the population."

Kimhi called for the establishment of a public authority which will "formulate a national food security strategy, break it down into achievable goals and applicable policy measures, and to supervise their implementation."

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