Photo credits: Nati Shohat / Flash 90
In a peak year for honey production in Israel, Agriculture Minister Oded Forer and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman want to allow the importation of honey for Rosh Hashanah – a move that local beekeepers say is purely political, taking advantage of the fact that Rosh Hashanah, then Jews dipping their apples and challahs in honey just happens to fall during the national election season.
The beekeepers’ organization reports that the Ministry of Agriculture has been informed that honey production in Israel’s beehives has reached an all-time high of about 4,200 tons – enough to meet all Israelis’ honey consumption needs during the holiday season in Tishrei.
“Agriculture Minister Oded Forer is in the business of destroying agriculture in Israel for reasons known only to him,” the beekeepers said in a press release on Tuesday. “He wants to introduce duty-free honey on the eve of Rosh Hashanah and transfers the responsibility for this failure – which would surely lead to the destruction of the beekeeping industry – to the Yesh Atid party. To this end, on August 25, 2022, Minister Forer requested the approval of Yesh Atid’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Orna Barbivai.”
There are 120,000 beehives operated by Israeli beekeepers across the country. According to their group, this year’s bountiful harvest, the result of the long winter and high rainfall rates that extended into March and April, produced abundant nectar-rich spring and summer blossoms. Then came summer, which started late this year, with temperatures favorable to the beehives and honey production process.
Doron Livne, chairman of the Israel Beekeepers Organization, said: “This is a populist and absurd move that the agriculture minister is apologizing for as a move to lower ‘the cost of living’ on the backs of farmers and beekeepers, at a time when he knows that the imports will be more than the market needs, and after all the jars of honey are already packed in the beehives of Israel and will be on the shelves in abundance in a very short time and at a fixed wholesale price that has not risen for a while. years ago. That is why he transfers the responsibility for the failure he creates to the Yesh Atid party. The citizens of Israel hear the promises of Israel’s Beiteinu ministers about cutting food prices – which in the meantime only are rising despite imports flooding Israeli markets and destroying Israeli farmers.”
The beekeepers group urgently sent an urgent letter to Minister Barbivai, warning that “Minister Forer’s proposal is based on unsubstantiated data, in the absence of a staff study on the consequences that could arise from excess imported honey, pollination in the various branches of local agriculture, all in clear contradiction to the provisions of the Treasury Department’s decree that imports must be made “in accordance with local growing conditions,” which he signed on June 16. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to open the duty-free quota for honey imports, while no decision has yet been taken.”
Avshalom Willan, secretary general of the Israel Farmers’ Association, said in a statement: “This is a populist move whose sole reason is the desire of the finance and agriculture ministers to win votes at the expense of honey growers. a move that only concerns the coming elections. Israeli beekeepers produce excellent honey that is sold to the citizens at a fair price, and there is no reason to approve the unreasonable and excessive importation of 560 tons of honey. I call on the Minister of Economic Affairs not to support this fatal damage to the beekeepers unnecessarily and not to allow the finance and agriculture ministers to turn the holiday from sweet to bitter.”
According to data from the Central Statistical Office, despite the price increases throughout the economy and the increase in the honey price around the world, Israeli honey is sold to various marketing chains at the same prices as in recent years, and thus no increase in consumer honey prices is expected for the Tishrei holiday. Consumer honey prices are even on a downward trend.