Israel looks to Cyprus as Jewish law orders land to remain fallow
By Jean Christou

ISRAEL is looking to Cyprus as a possible provider of crops for the next 12 months as the Jewish law forbidding the cultivation of land every seven years becomes effective in the Holy Land from next month.

Under Old Testament law, the land must remain fallow for the next 12 months, a period which is called Shmita in Israel and is ordained in the Biblical Book of Leviticus. Agricultural experts believe Shmita helps boost future harvests.

According to Christodoulos Photiou, the Director of Agriculture at the Ministry, Israeli inspectors will be in Cyprus on August 27 and 28 to check Cypriot produce, which they may buy in the coming year.

He said that during the year 2000, the last Shmita, Cyprus exported potatoes and vegetables to Israel, and hoped this year to increase the amount.

“They will not be producing any cash crops of their own for the next 12 months and they will have a need to import them from other countries,” he said.

Photiou said the Israelis had now contacted Cyprus again and wanted to check out how certain crops were grown on the island that may be able to supply their needs.

“We sent them all the necessary documents and we expect some people from Israel in the coming weeks,” said Photiou. ‘They will visit farms and fields and grain houses to satisfy their sanitary regulations.”

Photiou said the government did not have any involvement and that any transactions would take place between private Cypriot companies and private Israeli companies.

“This of course is very good for our farmers and will provide increased income to the sector and to the economy as a whole,” Photiou added.

He also said it would not impact on local production. “We are currently producing more than what is needed.” Photiou added the cost of sending produce to Israel was relatively low from Cyprus.


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