Growing up in a kibbutz and working in agriculture from a young age, Adi Nir, founder of Israeli startup MetoMotion, left the fields, as many others did, to make a living in the tech industry. The widespread global shortage of fruit and vegetable pickers is what brought him back to his roots to develop the world’s first robot for picking tomatoes.

Fewer and fewer people work in agriculture, which employs just 5% to 10% of the workforce in the European Union and euro area, and 6% in OECD countries, according to World Bank data. In Israel, only 1% of all Israeli workers are employed in agriculture, the data shows.

Israeli farmers are also struggling with labor costs. Since few Israelis work in agriculture, growers need to bring foreign workers to Israel to do the tough manual work, but are limited by how many permits the government allocates, driving up salaries.

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