Some of the latest statistics regarding Israel's citrus industry reveal astounding facts. In 1950-51, some 32,000 acres were under cultivation but by the end of 1956 the figure shot up to 50,000 acres and an increase to 62,500 acres by 1960. What does this mean in fruit? At an average of 320 cases per acre, it means an annual output of sixteen to twenty million cases. The fruit consists of Jaffa oranges, grape-fruit, lemons, mandarins and other citrine fruits.
Israel's chief competitor in the field of citrus fruit is Spain, but this is offset by the superior quality and taste of Israel's fruit. The significance of citrus to the economy of Israel is most conspicuous in the field of its international trade. In 1955, out of total exports amounting to 86 million dollars, citrus exports accounted for 31 million dollars. In 1956 the value of citrus bi-products amounted to 43 million dollars. While the net profit on other industrial exports is only 30% to 33 %, that on citrus is 70 %. Citrus exports therefore reach the level of all the country's other exports combined and rank high among Israel's foreign exchange earning industries.
It is also interesting to note that there is growing ability to save on shipping costs. During the 1955-56 season 26 % of all citrus exports were carried by vessels under the Israeli flag, involving a gross foreign exchange earning of one and a half million dollars, and with the expansion of the country's merchant marine, it is expected that an ever-increasing percentage of Israel's citrus will be carried by Israel's ships.
What does all this mean? When the Lord was asked—‘What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?' He listed certain important events that would occur, many of which are happening around us today. In His discourse, He added the parable of the fig tree—‘When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.'
Israel is that fig tree and when we see her developing into a healthy nation and expanding in accordance with God's Word, we may be sure that the Lord's return is imminent.—S. J. W. Chase
(Matt. 24. 32, 33).
In the early days of 1958, after being present at an interesting Jewish service in a synagogue in Cochin we learnt, in conversation with a Jew who had taken part in the reading of the Scriptures in Hebrew, that, though formerly there were thousands of Jews in Cochin, in which there are three synagogues, there are now only a few hundred, scarcely sufficient for one of the synagogues. These few, too, will soon be in Palestine, travelling free of cost by one of the weekly planes, the cost being met by the Zionist movement. From all the cities of the East, Jews are returning in their thousands to their own land. The fig tree is certainly putting forth its leaves.
(Matt. 24. 32, 33)