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Israel’s Agritech Innovations Bless the World

May 11, 2015

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes.'”  (Amos 9:13)

Israel’s agricultural technology, which was recently on display at Agritech, is quickly becoming a major blessing to populations around the world.

Precision agriculture is the new technological revolution, which focuses on key factors from enhancing crops to monitoring, growing and harvesting food; to stretching further the money and resources used in production.  (Haaretz)

Applying other industries’ technologies such as airborne photography to agriculture, farmers are finding tools that take them, their farming methods and their produce to another degree of quality—and with greater consistency.

This spring has seen a selection of agriculture-based trade fairs, including AgriVest 2015 and Agritech Israel 2015, drawing out an array of forward-thinking solutions that attracted ten thousand attendees from Israel and abroad.

India’s Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attended Agritech Israel, stating his desire to set up an Indo-Israel industrial park in his district.  (DNAIndia)

With India being a popular destination for Israelis, the landscape of agritech (agricultural-technology) ideas has already seen some Indo-Israeli cross-pollination.  

When Israeli firm NaanDan merged with India’s Jain in 2007, the new NaanDanJain set out on a path toward solving world hunger, claiming at the Agritech fair that their “new rice drip irrigation product really has the potential to vastly improve the lives of people in the developing world,” consuming only 30 percent of the water used in the common flooding technique.

NaanDanJain director Amnon Ofen added, “There is no question that our firm has been responsible for the green revolution in India. …  Millions of Indian farmers are using Israeli equipment and technology, and they are producing more from their land.”

The rice drip irrigation system might make greater improvements for the developing world, as chief agronomist Maoz Aviv stated, discovering a 50 percent increase in rice output during tests.

“The rice did better with drip-irrigation than with traditional irrigation.  It was stronger, bigger, and less prone to fungus attacks,” Aviv stated.  (Times of Israel)

Balinese rice paddy

A Balinese terraced rice field farmed with traditional methods.

The 2015 Bloomberg Innovation Index shows Israel second, behind South Korea, in research and development (R&D), with its innovative firms constantly seeking out more efficient and effective answers to new and old problems alike.

With the highest concentration of engineers in the world as of 2011, Israel has been relentless in tackling the limits of its desert-climate nation, exporting the fruit of its innovation in water, food and farming techniques.

“In a few decades it is predicted that there will be some 9 billion people in the world.  Without technology to improve yields, fight pests, and expand the amount of land available for crops, there is no way we will be able to feed all those people. Israeli technology can go a long way to helping accomplish these goals,” said Trendlines Group CEO Steve Rhodes, emphasizing Israel’s more than 200 agritech (agricultural-technology) research groups.  (Times of Israel)

Cucumbers grown with the help of drip irrigation, an Israeli innovation.

Cucumbers grown with the help of drip irrigation, an Israeli innovation.

Foreseeing this great need and market potential, the Israeli-based Trendlines Group invested $1 million in each of five Israeli agritech start-ups to help them develop a prototype of their innovations that introduce to the world solar-powered sensors to track livestock, cheaper robots for milking cows, natural herbs to block pests, insect-repelling packaging using plant odors, and compounds to remove pesticides from soil.

Trendlines brought representatives from SolChip, MiRobot, EdenShield, Catalyst Agtech and Organis Solutions on a five-city road show through the United States to meet with agri-investors in hopes of further funding and partnering.  One of these potential investors is agri-giant Monsanto whose director of technology prospecting, Dave Russell, observed that “relative to population, there is an enormous amount of agritech research going on [in Israel].”  (Times of Israel)

Such research continues to develop into marketable and useful products.  At Agritech 2015, Menashe Tamir and his company Eshet Eilon exhibited their spectral imaging machine that analyzes thousands of apples (or other fruit) at a time and sorts them according to many factors, so that picky produce consumers get exactly what they expect.

“Ours is the first fast sorting machine that can check every single piece of fruit that goes into a shipment, ensuring that buyers know what they are getting, and that the fruit shipments don’t get sent back because they aren’t up to standards,” Tamir said.  “Our sorting machines check everything there is to know about fruit—how much sugar, protein or carbohydrates are in fruit, how ripe it is, whether there are any diseases or fungi, and other information that until now exporters could only guess at.”  (Times of Israel)

Its near infrared hyperspectral imaging is already used in hand-held scanners for personal use, such as the SCiO which is expected to hit the market late 2015.

Water and flowers in Jerusalem

Fountain and Flowers in front of Kings Hotel, Jerusalem.  (Photo by Zeevveez)

With all their ideas for food and farming, Israeli researchers have likewise made strides in the field of water.  While the United Nations’ 2015 water report says the world in 2030 will have only 60 percent of the fresh water it needs, Israel is leading the way in tapping solutions: from using salt water to irrigate crops to making salt water drinkable with reverse osmosis.

The 2-year-old Sorek desalination plant not far from Tel Aviv provides clean drinking water to more than 1.5 million people and, in fact, produces the cheapest desalted drinking water in the world.

The plant has set “new industry benchmarks in desalination technology, capacity and water cost” with its Reverse Osmosis techniques, still undergoing innovation reforms as recently as February.  (IDE Technologies; Nextbigfuture)

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:19)

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