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Lulav Shortage Averted, Says Agriculture Ministry

Israeli palm tree growers are expected to meet demand for lulavs in Sukkot, despite last-minute Egypt export ban.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/18/2011, 6:21 PM

Sukkot kids with Lulav and etrog
Sukkot kids with Lulav and etrog
Ben Bresky

The Agriculture Ministry believes that it has managed to avert a shortage in lulavs -- palm tree fronds that are one of the Four Species used in the Sukkot holiday – despite a last-minute announcement by Egypt that it will not allow exports of lulavs this year. Israeli palm tree growers are expected to be able to produce enough lulavs to meet the demand, and imports from other countries are still an option. The Ministry also believes that lulav prices will not jump because of the unexpected situation.

According to a report last week, Egypt's decision is connected to the deterioration in ties between the two countries. There was concern that the Egyptian decision, announced just four weeks before Sukkot, would create a shortage and drive up prices, because most lulavs bought in Israel in recent years were grown in the Sinai area. 

The Ministry is encouraging Israeli palm tree growers to "meaningfully increase" lulav production, by a variety of means that include instruction and assistance.

The Ministry expects local growers to be able to supply 650,000 lulavs – in which case there will not be a serious shortage of supply. In addition, the Ministry stated, about 200,000 high quality "mehudar" lulavs will be produced in Israel, as in every year.

Import licenses from Spain, Jordan and Gaza have also been granted, but it is not certain yet that imports will take place. 

Palm tree growers have assured the Agriculture Ministry that they will not take advantage of the situation to raise lulav prices unfairly, beyond the price rise that is needed to cover the higher cost of labor in Israel.