A local NGO is looking to share the secrets of Israel’s agricultural know-how and innovation with people in the Caribbean in a free webinar series that began on Wednesday evening.
The event, organized by Volcani International Partnerships and the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition, will feature leading Israeli experts presenting various applications of smart farming to government officials, farmers and entrepreneurs in the Bahamas, Anguilla, Aruba and Barbados, the organization said.
“The idea for this started when we began organizing a private webinar for the Minister of Agriculture of the Bahamas,” said Tali Gottlieb, COO of VIP. “Within a week of announcing the project, we had more than 2,300 people signed up. The CILC promoted the program very aggressively, and a lot of the registrants said that they were very eager to learn from it.”
The coronavirus pandemic has been a wake-up call for decision-makers in the Caribbean islands to focus on food security and upgrading their agriculture sectors. Countries there import some 80%-90% of their food products, according to a 2015 assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, while the region’s traditional crops, such as sugarcane, bananas, coffee, tobacco and cacao, are primarily grown for export. The shutdowns of the past year have made it clear to the island countries that they need more self-sufficiency.
“This partnership has come at a critical time in the Caribbean’s development,” said Dr. Andre Thomas, founder and president of the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition. “COVID-19 has exposed us to the possibilities of suffering significantly from food supply shortages. The answer to this is the mass empowerment of a new breed of smart farmers that rise to the challenge of feeding the Caribbean using the most innovative technology. This training is a big step towards this end.”
Volcani International Partnerships was founded in 1983 by veterans of the Volcani Institute, but is not associated with the well-known research arm of the Agriculture Ministry, Gottlieb said. The organization aims to share Israel’s agricultural experience, expertise and technologies for the benefit of people throughout the world through advisory services, training delivery, technology transfer and bespoke projects.
The four-part webinar series will focus on smart farming applications ranging from irrigation and greenhouse agriculture to crop protection and post-harvest management. The program has generated many inquiries about private projects, Gottlieb said.