Fruit and Vegetables Import on a Sabbatical Year (Shmita)

The Next Sabbatical year is 2014 (Hebrew calendar Year 5774).

Those who observe the laws of a Sabbatical year are forbidden from vegetable consumption on the seventh year of vegetable-picking. 

The prohibition of fruit consumption, on the other hand, relates to the date of food ripening, and it is therefore only applied during the following year.

Hard vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and onions can be put in storage as of the sixth year until the beginning of 2015. Consequently, observant religious people are expected to experience shortage of these types of vegetables as of the first months of 2015. 

However, potato and onion crops that are grown in the Southern Arava region are allowed for consumption, because this region is situated outside the borders of the ancient land of Israel, in accordance with Jewish Religious Laws.

It is not allowed to store most of the other vegetable types, and therefore these vegetables are unsuitable for consumption from the start of the Sabbatical year already.

The Ministry of Agriculture grants tax benefits on import of fruit and vegetable produce only when there aren’t anymore known supply sources of such produce in Israel.

The sources in Israel are:

·         The Southern Arava - considered by the “Sabbatical Year Committees” as a territory outside the Land of Israel.

·         Greenhouses on elevated bedding.

·         Storage from the sixth year.

·         “Otzar Beit Din” (mostly with fruit).

·         Non Jewish farms in the Land of Israel.

·         Supplies from the Palestinian Authority territories.