One of the diplomats taking part in an Israeli Agriculture Day tour in the Negev.
(photo credit: COURTESY VOLCANI CENTER)
Israel is known for overcoming any challenge, especially in the agriculture world, where it has become a leader in making the desert bloom – and sharing that knowhow with the rest of the world.
Last week, diplomats from 36 countries got a taste of the innovation firsthand on a tour of the northwestern Negev, especially the communities close to the Gaza Strip, in honor of Israeli Agriculture Day.
Organized by the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, the diplomats from Europe, South America, Africa and Asia toured moshavim, farming communities and agriculture labs that produce and use technological innovations suited for arid and semi-arid climates.
According to the ministry, Israeli agriculture is a NIS 30 billion industry, and exports account for about NIS 8b.
The first stop was Sderot, where the group visited the RMH Lachish Industries Ltd. factory, which produces machines that ration out feed for dairy cows, and then stopped at the Nir Maon dairy farm.
They visited other moshavim and kibbutzim in the area, as well as the Besor Stream, the longest in the Negev.
The tour included a stop at the Gilat Research Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Agricultural Research, near Ofakim, as it celebrated its 95th anniversary of agriculture research and innovation.
The group was able to see the newest Ezovzovit plant, which is a combination of hyssop and oregano, and the “Buddha’s hand” citrus fruit, with finger-like segments that curl upward.
According to a spokeswoman from the center, the diplomats were especially excited to plant trees, each with a sign bearing the name of the country they represent.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel told the group of the importance of developing international ties and the farms of Israel.
“Israel agriculture is a showcase for the State of Israel,” he said before turning his attention to the successful communities located close to Gaza that face the brunt of Hamas’s rockets and attack tunnels.
“The farms at communities near the Gaza Strip are proof that the Israeli spirit is stronger than anything else,” he said.