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Economy, agriculture and food security
In 2007 the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$161.8 billion and, in 2005, agriculture accounted for less than 2 percent of GDP. The economically active population is about 2.95 million (2005) of which 57 percent is male and 43 percent female. In agriculture, 64 000 inhabitants are economically active, of which 80 percent are male and 20 percent female.
Agricultural export (fresh and processed) for 2005 reached US$1 680 million, 4.6 percent of the country’s total exports. Exported fresh produce amounted to US$1 024 million, mainly to the European Union, while exported processed food products totalled US$656 million. In addition, a total of US$1 900 million of agricultural inputs were exported (2004). This is the outcome of advanced agricultural technology, which has created a thriving industry with sophisticated industrial inputs. Hands-on experience in local agriculture serves as a laboratory for the development, design and manufacture of new input technologies.
Much of Israel’s agriculture is based on cooperative communities (kibbutz and moshav), founded on nationally-owned land that is provided on a long-term lease. Some of these communities date back to the early 20th century. The kibbutz is a rural community of several hundred inhabitants who run a large communal production unit. Kibbutz members jointly own the means of production and share social, cultural, and economic activities. Currently, most of the kibbutz income comes from non-agricultural activities (industrial enterprises, agro-tourism and services) and many are undergoing extensive reorganization. Another type of cooperative community, based on 50 to 120 individual family farms, is the moshav, which is defined and registered as an “agricultural cooperative society”. The moshav is based on the shared allocation of resources, such as farm land, water quotas, and other productive inputs, as well as, in some cases, the provision of packing and marketing facilities. The residents in both types of communities are provided with a package of municipal services. The kibbutz and moshav communities currently account for more than 80 percent of the country’s agricultural produce. A third type of farming community is the non-cooperative moshav, a village of farmers on mostly privately-owned land. Some moshav farmers are organized in local cooperatives operating productive assets (such as packinghouses and wineries). In addition to the Jewish agricultural sector, Arab villages are located in Israel’s rural areas. These villages focus mainly on the production of small livestock (sheep and goats), vegetables, field crops and olives (MARD, 2006).