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Agriculture Pioneers: Israel's Ingenuity

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

Op-Ed by Jennifer Kennedy

In 1959, Simcha Blass, a polish-israeli engineer, and his son Yeshayahu invented drip irrigation, a precisioned watering system meant to increase crop quality and consistency, while using less water per unit of land, in both arid and fertile climates. The modern day drip irrigation system includes six main components, the delivery system (made of pipes and hoses), filters, pressure regulators, chemical injectors, and controllers.

With an ever growing world population, Israel was the first to retrofit their agriculture systems with drip irrigation and move towards more sustainable food production. Israel has a booming agricultural sector, with just one worker supplying food for 113 people, and has proliferated agricultural innovation throughout the world. The groundbreaking technology of drip irrigation can help turn deserts into bountiful farmland, which is especially beneficial to developing nations. Abigail Liechman’s article, “12 top ways Israel Feeds the World” says, “irrigation kits produced by TIPA [ an Israel program] were dropped in Senegal to help farmers improve and maintain crops, providing hope for food security for 700 farming families in unstable times."

Drip irrigation technology has led to the creation of Netafim, a multinational corporation formed to commercialize Blass’s technology.The MNC has 16 manufacturing plants and more than 4,000 employees, showing the depth and reach the technology has created. One of Netafim’s subsidiaries is involved in the world’s largest integrated micro-irrigation project in Vietnam. The project will supply greenhouse structures, drip products, growing platforms and support services to Southeast Asia’s largest greenhouse project. The ingenuity and graciousness distributed by Israel, helping thousands around the world develop better techniques to sustain farming in a dynamic, ever-changing climate, has been exemplified by the numeros projects incorporating Blass’s technology.

However, drip irrigation is not the only way Israel is helping secure the future of agriculture. Israel also designed grain cocoons to help preserve grains for market freshness, biological pest control using engineered bumble bees, insects, and mites for pest control. The challenging climate surrounding Israel is felt by countless others around the world, technologies developed by Israel have been key in supporting unimaginable food production. Technologies to improve food supply such as in the case of Fish farming, a byproduct of overfishing, a plaguing practice which is threatening millions of people's main source of protein. Israel has developed a technology to make fish farming a possibility virtually anywhere. Grow Fish Anywhere Advanced Systems has eliminated environmental problems seen by most farm fishing and does not rely on electricity of proximity to a body of water. This development has disrupted farm fishing, seen in use at a factory in New York this technology produced 100 tones of fish in 2010. This level of production with no reliance on electricity or closeness to water is essential to agricultural development for countless landlocked developing nations.

The unparalleled innovation harnessed by Israel has transcended borders, environmental issues, and population growth. We all have something to learn from the agricultural developments forwarded by Israel. With climate change impeding on the vitality of our future, we must share best practices to help preserve natural resources, build resiliency in our world systems, and most of all acknowledge that one entity will not hold all of the answers. Israel has developed techniques to sustain agriculture, but this is one hurdle in the race against climate change. We must apply the same fearless innovation and unending proliferation of knowledge that Israel pioneered, to all sectors, oil and gas, infrastructure, and water management all are in desperate need of contrivance.

Jennifer Kennedy​

Jennifer is an AU junior studying public relations and sustainability. Her passions lie in food and the environment. Jennifer is studying to find better means of communication for global issues, including climate change.  Jennifer looks to engage others in discussions about the crossroads of cuisine and climate, hoping to educate, inspire, and push individuals to take action. If not advocating, Jennifer can be found on the field hockey field representing the AU Eagles Club Field Hockey Team, or marketing for our on-campus student-run food publication, Spoon AU.

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