The past weeks' extreme and prolonged heatwave in Israel is expected to cause agricultural damage worth more than 8.5 million dollars or 30 million shekels, a spokesperson for the KANAT Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture said. The Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) noted on May 25, 2020, that although absolute temperature records were not broken, the hot weather was record-breaking for its intensity and length.
The scorching temperatures across the country lasted for six days-- 40 to 43 °C (104 to 109.4 °F) were measured in the Coastal Plane, the Negev, and the northern valleys; 43 to 47 °C (109.4 to 116.6 °F) in the Jordan Valley and the Arava; 35 to 38 °C (95 to 100.4 °F) in the central mountains; 38 to 41 °C (100.4 to 105.8 °F) in the Lower Galilee and the southern Golan Heights, and 33 to 36 °C (91.4 to 96.8 °F) in the Upper Galilee and the northern Golan Heights.
The foundation had received numerous messages regarding damage to various crops from the heavy heat from all regions of the country, including the south of Ramat Hagolan, the upper Hagalil, central Israel, and southern Israel.
Although the initial assessments predict millions' worth of agricultural damage, it also said it may be too early to determine the extent of the final damage.
Heat damage to fruits and vegetables will lead to a significant drop in the volume of future crop yield, including avocadoes, citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, and watermelons.
It is also expected to lead to a price hike at supermarkets, with fruits and vegetable prices to increase by 30 percent, particularly cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and possibly watermelons as well.
The hot weather has already resulted in a shortage of nectarines, as well as a price increase of apricots and loquats. Meanwhile, peaches and cherries became cheaper as the heat caused them to ripen faster.
"In recent years, as a result of global warming, we have had very powerful weather events that caused heavy damage in a short amount of time," said KANAT director Shmulik Turgema.
"These are extreme events that farmers have almost no way of dealing with, with the insurance providing them the financial compensation that prevents them from collapsing. Regarding the current heatwave, in the initial phase, we’re speaking of an assessment of damages in excess of NIS 30 million, but it’s still too early to determine the extent of the final damages."
"In a similar heatwave that occurred just a year ago, in May 2019, the foundation paid NIS 25 million to various farmers. However, this heatwave is expected to last about a week and in addition to the high temperatures during the day, there are also unusually high temperatures during the night hours as well."
Turgema concluded, "As far as agriculture is concerned, this is a problematic combination and we expect the total amount of damages to be very high, amounting to tens of millions of shekels,"
Featured image credit: Pixabay