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23 Ellul 5771 - September 22, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Domestic Lulav Growers to Run Second Harvest Following Egyptian Ban

by Yechiel Sever

The Egyptian government's final decision to ban the export of lulavim to Israel and the rest of the world has placed great pressure on local date growers making extraordinary efforts and harvesting around the clock in order to close the gap and meet the demand for the upcoming Sukkos holiday.

MK Rabbi Uri Maklev has been working with the Foreign Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry to enable lulav imports from other countries. In addition, communities in the Beit Shean Valley, which dominate the domestic lulav market, are making every effort to meet Agriculture Ministry goals and reduce the dependence on imports as much as possible, while maintaining the same price level as in previous years.

Growers are working to make full use of the lulav quota, marketing lulavim that are about to ripen in order to flood the market and prevent a shortage.

According to Avner Rotem, who heads the date palm section at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, this year's original harvest ended at the beginning of Av due to the warm weather and the date harvest, which took place at the same time, but the Egyptian ban forced them to do a second harvest, which requires basket cranes and other heavy equipment to reach heights of 10 meters and more, and of course halachic sorting and packaging.

"In any event the mehadrin market is not expected to be harmed," says Rotem. "Over the years the vast majority of mehadrin consumers have consistently purchased Deri or Zahidi lulavim, which are in greater supply this year and no price change is anticipated."

This year lulav marketers are hoping to pass the 100,000 mark for mehudar lulavim. Shulchan Tamar, the umbrella group for date growers at the Growers Council, released a statement saying that an agreement had been reached with the growers according to which the price of a standard lulav sold at the orchard, including VAT, would not exceed NIS 10-12, while list prices at Arba Minim markets would not exceed NIS 30, for a lulav at regular standards of kashrus.

Different figures have emerged for the number of lulavim bought in the Israeli market. While the Agriculture Ministry reports 600,000-700,000 lulavim, local growers say there are no more than 500,000 lulavim in the market. They attribute the gap to independent export sales by local dealers, adding that the domestic lulav yield, along with increased imports, will meet or exceed the demand.


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