A discussion over tomato imports from Turkey that was going on last October will be resolved by a reshuffling of tomato purchase orders by the Israeli army. Under new contracts that have been worked, some 90% of tomatoes used by the army will be grown in Israel – specifically in the Gaza border area.
Most of the tomatoes will come from one large farm, the Amar farm, located right next to the Gaza border fences. The contract kicked in on January 1st, and will extend for at least three years.
Ilan Amar, owner of the farm, said that the farm supports 30 families who grow tomatoes there. “In the last round of rocket fire we spent a great deal of time in bomb shelters, and one of my children in the army called me and told me they were being served tomatoes from Turkey,” Amar said. “In the deal I made, I make a little less by selling to the IDF, but I feel that an injustice has been repaired.”
An October report on the source of IDF tomatoes in Yediot Acharonot elicited anger from farmers who say that the insult is twofold – with an important Israeli institution ignoring Israeli produce, and the fact that Israeli soldiers are being fed tomatoes being grown in a country that has not always been well-disposed to Israel.
Turkish tomatoes have been appearing more often in Israeli markets in recent months, with importers relying on them to keep prices low. The Turkish lira has been very week in recent months, making imports from that country very cheap compared to Israeli products and produce. In addition, tomatoes are among the products that have seen import duties slashed, again to keep prices down for the consumer.