Tel Aviv [Israel], October 19 (ANI/TPS): In order to allow for the continuation of agricultural work in the south of Israel, as well as to prevent future harm to the farmers in the areas surrounding Gaza, Israel's Ministry of Agriculture allowed the sowing of potatoes to begin on Wednesday today in the Lev HaNegev fields, near Kibbutz Urim, located about 15 miles (25 kilometers) from the border with Gaza.
The Ministry of Agriculture notes that at this stage, according to the army's instructions, there is no agricultural activity at a distance of up to 4.5 miles (7 km) from the border with Gaza and the ministry is assisting the farmers in locating alternative areas for sowing to ensure continuity functional for the supply of fresh agricultural produce.
According to the data of the Ministry of Agriculture, in the area surrounding Gaza (Eshkol, Shaar Hanegev, Negev fields and the Ashkelon coast) there are about 15,000 acres of potato fields, out of about 40,000 acres of land used for growing potatoes in the whole country. That is, about 40 per cent of the potato growing areas in Israel are located in the region near Gaza.
Each year, about 490 thousand tons of potatoes are produced in Israel. Of these, about 225 thousand tons are for Israeli consumption, about 73 thousand tons are used as raw material for industry, about 35 thousand tons are used as potato seeds for the next crop and about 155 thousand tons are exported.
Potatoes make up about 48 per cent of the total export of vegetables from Israel and so it is clearly important for the country's economy to maintain its production. (ANI/TPS)