Israeli agriculture firms promoting more efficient irrigation

Posted on April 01, 2016

A TRADE delegation is promoting Israeli irrigation technology that helps cut costs and makes water use by farmers more efficient.

In a news conference yesterday in Makati, Effie Ben Matityau, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines, said Israel’s technology permits “intensive” cultivation in desert areas where water is considered a precious resource.

He cited the country’s expertise in drip irrigation to promote maximum utilization of water without sacrificing the quality and yield of agricultural produce.

Drip irrigation delivers water to the base of each plant through a system of flexible irrigation tubing, drip emitters, and microsprays to distribute carefully targeted amounts of water.

“We have to look at water as a scarce commodity. Use it. Don’t abuse it,” said Mr. Matityau, who added that technology promises “more yield with less labor, less money, less water.”

The director of Water, Cleantech and Agro -- technology Department of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute Gilad Peled said that 70% of the world’s consumable water is used for agriculture.

Of the world’s total farmed area, only 5% uses micro-irrigation solutions, according to Mr. Peled, which the sector’s stakeholders hope to increase to 10% in the coming years.

“I believe in the next 10 years, you can see a lot of Israeli technology,” added Mr. Peled.

Agricultural productivity in Israel has grown dramatically since the early 1950s. Israel is known for having turned much of its arid land into fertile production areas.

In addition, domestic agriculture supplies most of the country’s food needs despite the country’s small size and limited arable land.

Meanwhile, the Ambassador said promoting Israeli techniques will require sharing knowledge and building local capacity.

“In technology transfer, [there needs to be] a foundation for capacity-building which means that the locals can absorb the technology, and understand the technology, and maximize their benefits,” said Mr. Matityau.

The Southeast Asia managing director of Netafim Ltd. Gal Yarden, said the adoption of Israeli methods requires the joint participation of farmers, government, and the private sector.

According to Mr. Yarden, financial solutions can come from the private sector or from the government as such is the case in India, where government aids farmers with the initial investment.

Netafim has been involved in the Philippines for about 30 years, mainly with the banana industry in Mindanao.

Beyond agribusiness, Mr. Yarden said: “We’re now looking more at how we can actually penetrate the small holder market and the other crops.”

In 2015, the Israeli Embassy launched a year-long “Thank you, Philippines,” to celebrate the decades friendship between the two countries, dating back to the sheltering of Jewish refugees from before the founding of Israel in 1948.

Israeli agricultural firms in the delegation are Agrotop Ltd., Bermad, BioFishency Ltd., Eshet Eilon, Metzerplas Cooperative Agricultural Organization Ltd., Netafim Ltd., ShneorSeed Ltd., and Tefen Flow and Dosing Technologies. -- Janina C. Lim