Israel Seen – Harvest for the World
The Jewish festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) that has just concluded is also the harvest festival – celebrating the ingathering of crops. It is an ideal opportunity to highlight how Israel is helping combat world hunger and feed an ever-increasing global population. These examples of relevant news article are just from the last three months.
Israel has revolutionized agriculture globally with its scientific innovations. Israel’s Phytech, for example, has developed innovative crop sensors that boost agricultural productivity and are now being adopted worldwide. Israel’s Kaiima Bio-Agritech is producing high-yielding varieties of essential food and feed crops using its proprietary (non-GMO) seed-enhancing platform.
Crop yields can also be increased by combatting pests. Israel’s EdenShield has developed a non-toxic pesticide with an aroma that repels pests. It is already used in Israel, Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece and is soon to be launched in the USA, Mexico and the EU. Meanwhile, Israeli biotech Evogene has recently manufactured the first toxin against Western corn rootworm and bred bananas that are resistant to the hugely damaging Black Sigatoka fungus. Another Israeli biotech, BioFeed, has developed a “no-spray” solution to kill the fruit flies that have been devastating mango plantations in India.
Other ways to prevent food wastage is to pick crops at the optimum time. Israeli start-up AclarTech has developed the AclaroMeter app that works with a smartphone’s camera and the Israeli SCIO molecular scanner, to monitor the ripeness, freshness and quality of fruit and vegetables. The SCIO scanner itself has been sent to US dairy farmers to help them check the nutrition of dry forage and deliver a more consistent diet to their animals.
You cannot grow crops without an adequate water supply and Israeli innovation in water conservation is benefiting water-stressed regions of the world, from Kenya to India to California. Thanks to Israeli drip irrigation, 15,000 farmers in Karnataka, southwestern India, are currently harvesting their first monsoon season crop in years. In another Israeli approach, Ben Gurion University’s desert research farm demonstrates how to grow crops in the drought conditions of a minimal rainfall climate.
Water is of course the basis for fish farming. Israeli aquaculture startup Latimeria breeds fish in desalinated water with salt added to save energy, minimize leakage and prevent harmful bacteria. Additional technology developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem promotes fish growth and is providing a vital food resource in Uganda. The solution is being further developed by Israeli startup Aquinovo.
Israel is devoting much effort to preventing hunger in Africa. Tahal Group – a subsidiary of Israel’s Kardan – is constructing three agricultural centers in Angola and a huge agricultural and water project in Zambia. Meanwhile, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame praised Israel’s agricultural technology, saying “Israel has continued to follow through on its commitments and objective of scaling up engagement across Africa.”
And President Faustin-Archange Touadéra made the first-ever visit to Israel by the head of state of the Central African Republic (CAR). He said to Israeli President Rivlin “we have come to Israel in order to learn – your country is a school for us.”
Two of the most effective organizations working on the African continent are MASHAV and Innovation: Africa. MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) is continually busy from Burkina Faso to Zambia. Innovation: Africa’s latest successes in Uganda were ably documented in a video featuring the 8-year-old daughter of the Israeli NGO’s founder. Finally, while the international media has been bemoaning inter-tribal disputes in South Sudan, Israel has been distributing food aid to drought-stricken villagers.
Israel brings overseas farmers to the Jewish State to pass on the knowledge to feed their own populations. Israel’s Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT) has changed the lives of many of its 16,000 foreign students. And 1,200 students from across Africa and Asia have just completed the 13th running of Israel’s unique post-graduate AgroStudies agriculture apprentice training program. Meanwhile 10,000 high-tech professionals descended upon Tel Aviv for its 5th annual DLD (Digital Life Design) Conference. This year’s focus was on food tech in which Israel has over 500 startups.
Finally, whilst the United Nations Secretary General was being shown Israeli technological innovation to benefit the planet, the recently launched Israeli-developed VENµS satellite continues to orbit the Earth monitoring global agriculture issues and the health of the environment of our planet.
With Israeli innovation,
You shall eat, and be satisfied.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.