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Kenya’s Bold Move to Send 1,500 Agricultural Workers to Israel Sparks Hope and Opportunity

In a significant stride towards fostering international collaboration and addressing employment challenges, Kenya is set to send 1,500 agricultural workers to Israel, as revealed by the Ministry of Labour. This groundbreaking initiative, formalized through a bilateral agreement, not only strengthens ties between the two nations but also opens a gateway of opportunities for Kenyan labor in Israel’s vibrant agricultural sector.

Shadrack Mwadime, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, announced the landmark deal, highlighting its mutual benefits. The three-year renewable contract offers a guaranteed net income of Ksh230,000 ($1,500 or £1,195) per month for the Kenyan workers, who will predominantly serve as casual labor in Israel’s agricultural fields.

“This collaboration is the result of extensive discussions between the Labour Ministry and Israel’s Guri Avocados Managing Director, Mr. Rami Cohen,” affirmed Mwadime.

The announcement follows in the footsteps of a similar move by Malawi, which sent 221 young individuals to work on Israeli farms, addressing the labor gap created by the departure of over 10,000 migrant farm workers, predominantly from Thailand, since the onset of the conflict with Hamas in early October.

Mwadime emphasized that the execution of this initiative, involving approximately 1,500 opportunities, will be meticulously coordinated through the Kenya National Employment Authority, working in tandem with local licensed agencies.

However, it’s worth noting that this endeavor comes against the backdrop of Israel’s decision to bar Palestinian workers, constituting nearly 20% of the agricultural labor force before the conflict. With a current deficit of 30-40,000 farm workers, the collaboration with Kenya is poised to play a pivotal role in bolstering Israel’s agricultural workforce.

In response to the initiative, some Kenyans have expressed support, acknowledging the potential to alleviate the unemployment crisis and combat the rising cost of living in Kenya. With an unemployment rate of 5.5%, as per World Bank data, this collaboration aligns with Kenya’s efforts to provide much-needed employment opportunities for its citizens.

To address concerns about the safety of the Kenyan workers, Israel’s ambassador in Kenya, Michael Lotem, assured that the farm workers would be strategically placed away from conflict zones, receiving the same level of protection as their Israeli counterparts.

As Kenya and Israel embark on this collaborative journey, it not only signifies a step towards economic empowerment but also underscores the importance of global cooperation in addressing shared challenges and creating a more prosperous future for both nations.

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