Israeli Agriculture Minister Tzachi Hanegbi held an emergency meeting on Wednesday with regional council heads and agricultural organizations to discuss the potential implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s food supply.

Hanegbi said that government coordination with growers and importers was required to ensure supply continuity and food security should the outbreak worsen significantly, but that shortages in local produce such as fruit, vegetables, milk, eggs and poultry were unlikely, reported the Times of Israel.

Regional Councils Center chairman and Merhavim Regional Council head Shay Hajaj echoed Hanegbi’s message of reassurance, saying Israelis could “calm down.”

“We can tell the citizens of Israel that they can calm down. We don’t expect any shortage of fresh produce in the run-up to Passover [from April 8 to 15] or Independence Day [April 28-29],” said Hajaj, according to the report.

Even so, he called for a preemptive increase in local production.

“In order to ensure fresh food in Israel, local produce must be relied upon rather than imports, and quotas should be increased for [Israeli] agriculture. Farmers can increase domestic production and reduce dependence on imports. Together, we will build an agricultural policy that ensures fresh food security in Israel from now on,” he said.

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