By KTA News Team |

Only 200 showed up out of the 30,000 registered”: Agriculture Ministry Grapples with Intense Employee Crisis and No Clear Solutions

The Agriculture Ministry reveals a deepening crisis as, since the war’s onset, around 60,000 workers have either left the country or are denied entry to its territories. Despite the ministry’s 2 million shekel campaign, only 200 Israeli workers participated. Anticipating a potential 30% shortage of tomatoes and 10-20% shortfall in cucumbers, cabbage, and onions, coupled with expected price hikes, the situation looks grim.

Farmers argue that Israeli workers were deterred by wages, despite the offered grant. A farmer shares

“Many workers approached us, but as soon as I disclosed our hourly payment—which exceeds what we pay Thai workers—they vanished. In addition to their grant, Israeli workers demand double or more than what a Thai worker receives. Such wages are unsustainable for us.”

The foreign worker shortage extends beyond conflict zones. In the Sharon region, a farmer reports that out of 35 Thai and Palestinian workers, 20 left. He contends that the output of a Thai worker does not match that of an Israeli worker. Even if Israeli workers were available, he believes they would only accomplish half the work.

Alongside efforts to attract Israeli workers, the ministry attempted to expedite the entry of alternative foreign workers. An agreement with Sri Lanka, facilitating the first-time arrival of foreign workers through a business route without a government-to-government agreement, has yet to yield significant success.

Despite covering 5,000 workers in the business route, only about 2,000 workers have entered Israel. Sri Lanka has not dispatched any workers as of yet. Even pressure from the Agriculture Ministry to permit the entry of Palestinian workers has failed, with the government withholding approval. Industry experts predict that the shortage of manual labor will persist in the coming months, impacting local production.