Israel Wants To Lease Negev Land To Chinese Market
December 27, 2017 | A new plan headed by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and director general Shlomo Ben Eliyahu for collaboration with the Chinese market is being promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to a report in Globes. A portion of the plan calls for 250,000 acres of land (one million dunams) in the Negev to be specifically held for the purpose of growing crops and produce for China. Ben Eliyahu, who visited China two weeks ago where he held talks with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, and where the idea was first brought up, calls the venture “the million dunam project.” The distributed Negev land is not an essential part of the land — Globes says it is already leased to some communities under special contracts. The land will now be used to grow particular “premium” crops, which interested Chinese customers will buy in advance. The interested Chinese investors will fund irrigation costs of the farms, with two desalination locations to be built specifically for irrigating those areas. Concerns about being raised about the project by the agricultural sector in Israel because the Negev is a region prone to drought, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has still given it the go-ahead.