After parched winter, produce prices predicted to rise
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After parched winter, produce prices predicted to rise

Recent downpours not enough to counter a growing deficit, but desalinization will still keep Israel well watered

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The city of Tiberias, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, February 20, 2014. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
The city of Tiberias, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, February 20, 2014. (photo credit: Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

With winter almost over, Israel is preparing to deal with the aftermath of a particularly dry season, including sharp hikes in the prices of fruits and vegetables.

After a mild start to the week, temperatures dropped by several degrees in Israel on Tuesday, with sporadic light showers predicted. But with winter officially ending on March 21, there are no predictions of the kind of precipitation that would make up for the country’s acute rain deficit in the coming days.

Rainfall during March has so far been far below the annual average for the month, despite a downpour at the end of last week that raised the level of the Sea of Galilee by eight centimeters.

Although the Israel Water Authority has noted that this winter has been one of the driest on record, water shortage is not expected to be a problem, due to desalination plants on Israel’s Mediterranean coast that can pick up the slack.

However, agricultural products, including fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat, could increase in price as farmers try to cover the cost of buying water to make up for the lack of rain, the Water Authority said, according to Maariv.

According to the Water Authority, during January the level of the Sea of Galilee, often used as a yardstick for annual precipitation, rose by just 11 centimeters. By contrast, the annual average for that month is 42 centimeters. Meanwhile in February the lake’s level rose by a mere four centimeters, far less than the average 55. The annual average rise for March is 34 centimeters, but so far the level of the water has only gone up by 12 centimeters since the beginning of the month.

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