Rural Land Rights In Israel Yonatan Bassi April 2012
Israel’s rural sector is trapped in the dilemma ofcentral planning versus free market
Current trends in Israeli agricultureConstant worsening of trade conditions Output Input Trade prices prices conditions
Farmers’ survival depends on technological efficiency and return to scale However: Israeli farmers face here theconstraints of central planning
About 90% of land in Israel isstate-propertyThis is partly the heritage of Turkishcontrol over the country, that ended in1918…
Getting hold of land for cultivation isrestricted by laws, regulations,committees, and other bureaucraticmeans…
Land use in Israel („000 dunam)Total land: Of which: Cultivated Of which: land:21,942 Built area 2,000 4,200 Irrigated 2,200 Military use 10,620 Non-irrigated 2,000 Open space 9,322
Most of the villages in Israel arecommunal or cooperativewhere land is owned jointly by allfarmers togetherAnd is managed by the villagefarmers’ association No. of cultivated landMoshavim (cooperative villages) 402 43.4%Kibbutzim (communal villages) 306 25.3%Non-cooperative villages 244 31.3%Total 952 100%
State-owned land is allocated to communal and cooperative villages according to “farm units” (Nachala)
The farm units are leased to the farmers’associationwhich manages their cultivation (in a kibbutz)or allocates them to farming households (in amoshav)The size of the farm unit and the numberof farm units in each village isdetermined by the Ministry of AgricultureThe farm unit is about 30-70 dunam in sizeAll farm units of one village are the same size
The size of the Israeli “farm unit” is compatible to the size of Mediterranean farms 100 90 80 Average farm size (dunam) 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Israel Greece Italy Portugal
Can a farmer make a living of this farm unit?Example: Shamuti orange groveAverage annual income per dunam: 71.5 €Average annual income per farm unit of 50 dunam: 3,575 € 298 € per month!440 dunam of citrus groves are neededIn order to provide for the average income of anIsraeli family
Rights and obligations associated with ownership ofa farm unit in a cooperative village( Moshav):• The land is leased for very low rate- about 130 Euro / yearfor the whole farm unit• The farmer must live on the farm and is allowed to build upto 3 residential units on it, for use of members of his / herfamily only• It is prohibited to divide the farm unit or unite a number offarm units together.• Only one descendant can inherit the farm unit• The farmer is not allowed to sub-let the farm unit• The farmer must actively cultivate the land – otherwise thestate can take back the land and lease it to anther farmer
And above all:• The farmer does not hold any legal ownership over thefarm unit!• The land is owned by the state and leased to the farmers’association. The farmers are not part of this contract!
Although not officially allowed, in practicesub-lease of farm land is common practicein Israel….
In conclusion Two systems influence land activity in rural Israel Formal InformalCentrally planned Market-orientedIsraeli farmers are trapped in the dilemma of obeying the law versus the survival and prosperity of their farm