Israel’s agricultural and environmental innovation

Compiled and edited by Jon Sutz

Quick facts

  • Israel is a world leader in developing environmentally-friendly means by which to grow food where it was previously impossible or difficult to do so, and now helps to feed more than one billion people
  • Israel is also at the forefront of means to transform trash into energy, in an eco-friendly manner
  • Israel is the world leader in solar energy use for residential water heating, as well as water recycling and clean technology
  • Israel routinely offers its technology to even its adversaries, but is often rebuffed, due to anti-Semitic bigotry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAQn1ozcJeU&t=62s


Contents

Farming & agriculture

(1) Israel’s efforts to help third-world nations produce abundant food

(2) Israel’s innovations in ultra-low water use farming

(3) Israel’s global leadership in food & agriculture technology

(4) Israel’s development of chemical-free fertilizer

(5) Israel’s development of a pesticide-free way to kill mosquitos

(6) Israel’s innovations in developing meat-less animal products

Environmental innovations

(7) Israel is the world leader in water recycling

(8) Israel’s leadership in solar technology

(9) Israel’s capital investments in green technologies and combating combat climate change

(10) Israel’s reforestation efforts


(1) Israel’s efforts to help third-world nations produce abundant food

Relevant items on this page will be integrated into this section.


(2) Israel’s innovations in ultra-low water use farming

Relevant items on this page will be integrated into this section.


(3) Israel’s global leadership in food & agriculture technology

WATCH: Innovative Israeli Technology Prevents Food Contamination, by United With Israel, November 3, 2020. Excerpt:

Food poisoning is a growing problem due to factory- and mass-produced commercial farming, but thanks to Israeli company Inspecto, a solution is available to help reduce food contamination.

The tech company, founded in 2016, developed a nanoscale portable device that simplifies testing for toxins and allows for early contaminant detection, keeping food safe for everyone and protecting businesses.

Watch and learn more about the amazing technology that will keep the food you eat toxin-free!


(4) Israel’s development of chemical-free fertilizer

Relevant items on this page will be integrated into this section.


(5) Israel’s development of a pesticide-free way to kill mosquitos

6 Israeli Companies Utilizing Tech To Save The Bees, by Shmuel Gordon, NoCamels, May 19, 2022. Excerpt:

Imagine a world without bees. No honey to sweeten your tea, no strawberries or blueberries in the spring, and no melons or mangos during summer picnics. No almonds or walnuts either to bring on hikes, and no avocado toast to hit the spot at breakfast.

As pollinators, bees play a huge role in every part of the ecosystem — from supporting the development of trees and flowers (that serve as food and shelter) to being a food source for humans, insects and animals.

Global bee populations have been declining at a rate of about 35 percent per year, and with bees’ critical role in the food cycle, this decline has endangered much of the world’s food supply. In fact, about 75 percent of the world’s crops rely at least in part on pollination, according to the World Bee Project.

“It’s not happening in 50 or 100 years, this is happening now. We’re not 100 years away from losing bees- we’re a couple of decades away,” Saar Safra, CEO of Israel’s Beewise tells NoCamels.

Once a year, on May 20, the world comes together to celebrate “World Bee Day” and bring awareness to the dwindling bee colonies.

Ahead of the day marked around the globe, NoCamels highlights six Israeli companies using tech, innovation, and agricultural expertise to help save the bees and through them, the global food supply.


Israeli students find pesticide-free way to kill mosquitos; by Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, December 8, 2019. Excerpt:

Ben Gurion University biologists have discovered that a bacteria in the gut of the mosquito can be activated to poison the larvae.

Mosquitos aren’t only pesky insects that suck your blood and make you scratch. They are airborne carriers of serious diseases from malaria to Zika.

Because mosquitos congregate around water, and spraying water sources with pesticides is not possible, eradication is difficult.

Student biologists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have found a genetically engineered solution – have the males transfer to the females a specific type of bacteria that poisons mosquito larvae.

This novel solution was found as part of the recent iGEM Competition, an international team competition to promote synthetic biology. BGU’s team, dubbed FlyGEM, found that previous BGU research had discovered bacteria in the mosquito’s gut called BTI. When activated, BTI produces a poison that only kills mosquito larvae.

The FlyGEM team, from left first row: Prof. Lital Alfonta, Eden Ozer, Reut Rahamim Molgan with baby Yedidya (born during the project), Hen Zinger, Ofir Hurvitz, Nofar Cohen, Hadar Buium, Mor Pasi; second row: Dror Aizik, Yoav Dagmi, Mey Tal Banar, Assaf Vital, Dr. Ramon Birnbaum. Photo by Dani Machlis/BGU


(6) Israel’s innovations in developing meat-less animal products

Vegan burgers printed by robot; vegan eggs coming next; SavorEat’s robotic technology will dispense custom-printed fast food from plant-based sources. The company also is developing an egg substitute, by Brian Blum, Israel 21C, June 14, 2021. Excerpt:

Star Trek had its replicator. Now Israel has Robot Chef, a standalone unit that creates food items on the spot, to the diner’s specifications.

It won’t be as quick as when Jean-Luc Picard famously commands his food unit to brew up “Tea, Earl Grey,” but six minutes isn’t that long to wait for a custom-designed burger made right at your table.

Oh, and did we mention that the burgers are vegan, gluten free and with no antibiotics, preservatives or GMO ingredients?

SavorEat is the company with this galactic vision for food preparation.

The Rehovot-based startup has a partnership with the Burgus Burger Bar chain in Israel to bring custom “meat” patties to fast food diners around the country. (BBB also owns the Mozes and Burgerim restaurants, although the latter aren’t receiving SavorEat printers in this initial round.)

The company has its origins in the lab of Hebrew University professors Oded Shoseyov and Ido Braslavsky, who developed the technology that SavorEat subsequently licensed.


Animal-Free Dairy Company, Remilk, Secures $11.3M in an Oversubscribed Funding Round, Preparing for Global Launch; Remilk’s Technology Breakthroughs Increase Production of Animal-free Dairy Proteins by an Order of Magnitude, BusinessWire, December 14, 2020 . Excerpt:

Remilk, an Israel-based start-up producing identical dairy products through microbial fermentation, today announced the completion of its $11.3 million funding round. With this new capital, the company plans to rapidly expand its production and distribution capabilities, and meet global demand, for its revolutionary animal-free dairy products.

The latest funding was led by fresh.fund with participation from OurCrowd, CPT Capital, ProVeg and food manufacturers Hochland, Tnuva and Tempo, as well as Co-founder & Former Managing Director of Berkshire Partners, Bradley Bloom; prominent investor, Sake Bosch; serial technology entrepreneur and investor, Amiad Solomon; food-tech investor Beni Nofech and others.

“Today’s non-dairy alternatives address environmental and health concerns, but universally fail to create authentic dairy-based products, like cheese. We’re bridging this gap by making dairy products with dairy proteins, without needing a single cow,” said Aviv Wolff, Co-Founder & CEO at Remilk. “Our proprietary technology delivers the most authentic animal-free dairy product in the market today and is identical to natural dairy. With our new partnerships for production and distribution, we’ll soon be ready to reinvent this multibillion-dollar industry.”


World’s First Cell-Based Chicken Restaurant Opens in Israel; The Chicken restaurant is a test kitchen created by food-technology startup SuperMeat that serves real chicken grown outside of the animal, by Anna Starostinetskaya, VegNews, November 8, 2020. Excerpt:

Israeli food technology startup SuperMeat recently unveiled the world’s first lab-grown meat restaurant. Called “The Chicken,” the concept is a test kitchen that sits adjacent to its pilot production plant. Set up like a restaurant, visitors (who must apply for a table) see SuperMeat’s production process and are among the first to try the startup’s cultured chicken—real meat grown from a small number of animal cells without the need to slaughter the chicken. Aside from the cultured chicken—which is served in two burger compositions—the fall 2020 menu of The Chicken features a variety of seasonal ingredients in dishes such as salads and tortelloni and several dessert options. “The burger has a juicy chicken flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside,” SuperMeat CEO Ido Savir told Fast Company. “Feedback from multiple tasting panels was consistent that it was indistinguishable from conventionally manufactured chicken, and simply a great-tasting chicken burger.”


The world’s first 3D-printed vegan steak is here and it could be hitting restaurants soon, by Lizzie Thomson, MetroUK, June 30, 2020. Excerpt:

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any more bizarre, a company has brought out the world’s first 3D-printed vegan steak.

Redefine Meat, an Israeli company based in Rehovot, has unveiled an ‘Alt-Steak’ which replicates the texture, flavour and appearance of real-life meat – all thanks to 3D-printing technology.

The new Alt-Steak is made out of soy and pea proteins, coconut fat and sunflower oil, along with natural colours and flavours.

Designed to recreate the muscle structure of beef, the faux steak is high in protein and – being plant-based – has no cholesterol.

It seems no details have been spared with this creation either.

Working with leading butchers, chefs, food technologists and taste experts, Redefine Meat has digitally mapped more than 70 different sensory factors – including the cut’s texture, juiciness, fat distribution, feel in the mouth and more.

The company is expected to start testing the alternative beef cuts in high-end restaurants in Israel as earlier as next month – with plans to roll it out in European restaurants next year and at supermarkets in 2022.


(7) Israel is the world leader in water recycling

Israel Leads World in Water Recycling, by Fluence, July 20, 2020. Excerpt:

With a focus on agriculture irrigation, nearly 90% of the country’s wastewater is now reused.

Arid Israel has historically suffered from water scarcity, but now, it has achieved water security. While Israel’s use of desalination is well known, it is not as well known that the country has also revolutionized its water recycling system to provide 25% of its water.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy, said:

Today, nearly 90 percent of our waste water is recycled. […] That’s around four times higher than any other country in the world. It is a remarkable achievement and this benefits not only Israel. Israeli companies are helping save water around the world, from Africa to California to India.

Israel’s Water Reuse System

The water treated for reuse in Israel is predominantly used for agricultural irrigation. Roughly 10% is used for environmental purposes, such as increasing river flow volume and fire suppression. Only 5% percent is discharged into the sea.

The centerpiece of Israel’s water reclamation effort is its largest facility, the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant. Cited as a model plant by the United Nations, it treats 97 million GPD of municipal wastewater from the Tel Aviv area, with a mission of minimizing pollution, health risks, and untreated discharges while supplying safe, beneficial effluent. The effluent is given secondary biological and tertiary soil aquifer treatment, and then transported by pipeline to irrigate 60% of the agriculture in the Negev Desert.


(8) Israel’s leadership in solar technology

Largest solar energy field in US to be built by Israeli company; Built by the Israeli company Doral Energy in Indiana, the Mammoth Solar project will produce 1.3 gigawatts of clean, solar energy, by Jerusalem Post, October 15, 2021. Excerpt:

The construction of Mammoth Solar, an Israeli solar energy project that will become the largest solar field in the United States, has begun following its groundbreaking on Thursday, attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan.

Built by the Israeli company Doral Energy in Indiana, the Mammoth Solar project will produce 1.3 gigawatts of clean, solar energy.

“The Mammoth Solar project is a milestone in the Israel-US relationship,” said Erdan in the groundbreaking of the project.

“This project is a shining example of the tremendous mutual benefits of our cooperation, not only for the people of Israel and the United States but for the entire world.”

“Mammoth Solar will create hundreds of jobs, and produce enough clean energy to power over one hundred and seventy thousand households annually,” the ambassador added.


Israeli company hopes to replace batteries with dye solar cells; The product, developed by the firm 3G Solar Photovoltaics, is an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology, by Reuters, March 24, 2016. Excerpt:

An Israeli company says it has developed solar energy technology so efficient that it can power office appliances and wearable technologies, making the need for batteries obsolete.

The product, developed by the firm 3G Solar Photovoltaics, is an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology, which uses glass-printed photovoltaic cells to power everyday electric devices, from a computer mouse to smart watch.

While solar energy typically requires sunlight to produce electricity, these dye solar cells are so sensitive they can generate power from indirect, indoor lighting.

Nir Stein, Director of Product R&D and Chief Business Development Officer at the company, demonstrated how an ordinary computer mouse with the company’s dye solar cells can operate without a battery.

“What you see here is a computer mouse that has a bluetooth connectivity inside it and is powered by 3G solar photo voltaic cells,” he explained as he took the battery out.

Update 2019, from CNBC, here:


(9) Israel’s capital investments in green technologies and combating combat climate change

Israel: The world’s cleanest country; Anti-Semites are getting increasingly inventive in their campaign to smear Israel in every conceivable way, by Mitchell Bard, JNS, April 27, 2022. Excerpt:

One of the newer calumnies is to accuse anyone who has the temerity to talk about Israel’s efforts to protect the environment of “greenwashing.” Israel is the country that invented drip irrigation and built desalination plants to conserve water. Israelis have been using solar water heaters for decades, long before many people heard of solar. Israel has been planting trees for more than a century. The Palestinians, meanwhile, polluted the aquifer in the Gaza Strip, making it undrinkable, and threaten other water resources with their mismanagement. They burned thousands of acres of ‎forest ‎‎and ‎‎‎agricultural ‎‎land ‎‎and destroyed 25 percent of all nature reserves near the Gaza ‎‎border, killing plants and animals during their “Great March of Return.” Nevertheless, the BDS campaigners convinced the Sierra Club to cancel all of its Israel trips. Fortunately, the club’s leaders regained their sanity and rescheduled them.

Israeli Robotic Beehive Maker Raises $80 Million in Private Funds, The Algemeiner, March 30, 2022. Excerpt:

Beewise, an Israeli maker of robotic beehives aimed at saving bees from climate changes, said on Wednesday it raised $80 million in a private funding round led by private equity firm Insight Partners.

The round brings total funds to date to $120 million, it said, adding the new financing will go towards meeting rising demand for its robotic beehives.

Beewise said its agricultural technology has saved more than 160 million bees in the past year. Climate controlled and using automated harvesting, the robotic beehives — sheds that are populated by bees and used by farmers — are powered by solar panels.[…]

It noted that pollination is crucial to life on the planet since 30% of the global food supply and more than 70% of vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts are pollinated by bees.


For Israeli startups, ‘7 trillion’ reasons to develop climate solutions; Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announces “Green Sandbox” to incentivize industry entrepreneurship • Israeli-based Firstime Ventures launches $100 million fund, by Alex Traiman, JNS, November 1, 2021. Excerpt:

The current Israeli government led by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is taking the issue of climate change more seriously than ever before. Israel has brought a delegation of 140 members to the 26th U.N. Climate Change Convention (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

Bennett pledged this week that Israel will no longer burn coal for electricity by 2025, and committed Israel to be a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. While the pledges, particularly the latter, will be extremely difficult for a nation that currently relies on abundant sources of natural gas, the net result will likely be negligible compared to significantly larger countries.

Speaking at the COP26 plenary, Bennett noted, “Our carbon footprint may be small, but our impact on climate change can be mighty.” He called on Israeli entrepreneurs to “be the game-changers” and harness their creativity for climate solutions, calling the Jewish state the “climate innovation nation.”

In particular, Bennett announced the launch of an official task force called “the Green Sandbox” to provide funds to entrepreneurs and cut bureaucratic red tape.


Little Israel solves big environmental challenges, by Dr. Sol Lizerbram, JNS, November 12, 2021. Excerpt:

People often ask me how Israel copes with climate change. Yet Israelis don’t look to cope; they look to solve. […]

Wherever there is water, there is life. And you’d think that a desert region considered to be the lowest place on earth and home to the lifeless salt-saturated Dead Sea would be the last place you’d find fresh water. However, in Israel’s Negev Desert, there’s not only water and life. There’s living. […]

Some regard the Negev Desert’s arid environment to be a window into what our world may look like if temperatures continue to rise; however, Israelis see it as the perfect testbed to trial new technologies that can solve global water insecurity and so much more. Through JNF-USA’s philanthropic investments in the region, Israel now recycles 90 percent of its wastewater—more than any other country in the world. As we enter a new decade, what’s become clearer is that solving climate change is the role philanthropy was born to play.


(10) Israel’s reforestation efforts


Arieli Capital and Ramat Negev Regional Council set to establish an ag-tech innovation center in southern Israel, by IsraelAgri.com, May 21, 2020

Arieli Capital has signed a cooperation agreement with Ramat Negev Regional Council and Ramat Negev Industries, for the establishment of an ag-tech innovation center to take advantage of the region’s achievement in turning the desert into an unmatched agricultural success story. The new facility will operate within the jurisdiction of the regional council in southern Israel. The initiative is part of a plan to expand the economic potential of the region’s booming agricultural sector and the agricultural research and development capabilities developed at the region in recent decades.

The Eilat Technology Center (ETC), a subsidiary of Arieli Capital, will plan and lead the establishment of the innovation center. The center will be located near Ashalim and focus on areas of specialization in the region, including general agriculture, desert agriculture, marine agriculture, cannabis and more. The total investment in the planning and establishment of the center will be around $5 million. Arieli Capital will take the lead in this venture, with the participation of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and other investors.

The initial stage of activity will entail an ag-tech accelerator. Five to ten of the most promising startups will be selected by senior officials in the agricultural and investment fields to participate in the first accelerator. From the outset, the entrepreneurs will be offered several options to assist them in facilitating their entry into the global market. These include financial support and mentoring by technology and business experts from the agriculture and food industries, access to labs and R&D facilities including the Ramat Negev Agricultural R&D Center. Other resources will include direct access to leading Israeli and global agricultural and food industry brands, participation in the future plans for business development and capital raising for investment, as well as unlimited possibilities for conducting technological pilots of new innovations in the regional council’s agricultural fields.


Microgreens from tiny Israel offer big taste and nutrition, by Abigail Klein Leichman, ISRAEL21C, March 17, 2020. Excerpt:

Israeli company 2BFresh exports ready-to-use microgreens to North America, Europe and Asia – and not just for garnishing plates. Even Buckingham Palace is getting in on the act.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your diet (and who isn’t in these coronavirus times), you don’t need to look much further than the fashionable microgreens now emerging on supermarket shelves.

Harvested seven to 20 days after the seedlings emerge, young leafy sprouts pack more flavor and nutrients per gram compared to adult plants. For instance, the amount of Vitamin K1 in broccoli micro-leaves is three times higher than in mature broccoli.

No wonder more and more consumers –not only professional chefs and caterers – are adding microgreens to salads, sandwiches and soups.

Surprisingly, tiny Israel is a source of these tiny nutritious leaves.

“We export to Western and East Europe, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, the US and Canada,” says Yael Mandel, international sales manager for 2BFresh. “England, France and Poland are among our biggest markets.”

2BFresh, an offshoot of 61-year-old Teshuva Agricultural Projects (TAP), produced 85 tons of microgreens in 2019, plus 45 tons of a similar product called “sunflower shoots,” for the domestic and overseas markets.

Microgreens from 2BFresh in Israel. Photo: courtesy


Reforesting Israel, Restoring Israel, by AllCreation, February 22, 2020. Excerpt:

“In 1948, forests covered two percent of Israel’s territory. Today, trees cover eight and a half percent of the land — approximately 247,000 acres.” (Prof. Alon Tal)

“Tree-planting is an ancient Jewish tradition, mentioned in the Talmud as being more important than greeting the Messiah. With over 240 million planted trees, Israel is one of only two countries that entered the 21st century with a net gain in the number of trees, due to massive afforestation efforts. Israeli forests are the product of a major afforestation campaign by the Jewish National Fund.” (IsraelisLegitimate.org)

Israel’s reforestation efforts have not only been tremendously successful, they’ve restored local biodiversity, hydrology, food production, and ecological security. Below is a collection of videos and articles showcasing various aspects of Israel’s remarkable restoration efforts, plus a bonus video on permaculture-based restoration in Jordan.

More: All the Trees of the Forest: Israel’s Woodlands from the Bible to the Present, by Alon Tal, Yale University Press, 2013.


Israeli researchers discover plants emit an ultrasonic ‘scream’ when stems are cut or if species are not watered enough, by Michael Thomsen, Daily Mail (UK), December 9, 2019. Excerpt:

A team of scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that some plants emit a high frequency distress sound when they undergo environmental stress.

The researchers tested tomato plants and tobacco plants by depriving them of water and by cutting their stems and then recording their response with a microphone placed ten centimeters away.

In both cases, they found the plants began to emit ultrasonic sounds between 20 and 100 kilohertz, which they believed could convey their distress to other plants and organisms in the immediate vicinity.


Israeli Agriculture & Food Companies Take 10 Spots on the List of the Top 50 Worldwide in 2020, Behold Israel, March 1, 2020. Excerpt:

In a report published by Forbes regarding the top 50 companies worldwide in the food & agriculture technology sectors, 10 of them were Israeli companies; Companies who make this list are seen as ‘exceptional companies…pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology’.

Forbes recently published an annual report that is put together by SVG Ventures-THRIVE, compiling who they believe to be the Top 50 companies worldwide in both the food & agriculture technology sectors. You guessed it! Not only did an Israeli company make its way into the Top 50 but 10 different Israeli companies made it on the list!

SVG Ventures-THRIVE is ‘the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors.’ According to THRIVE, the companies on the list “are scouted for their exemplary leadership teams, technology and traction and are selected following months of rigorous research by the SVG-THRIVE team.”

Making the Top 50 list, for Israeli tech companies, really isn’t much of a surprise given recent statistics that show that they’re now able to provide close to 95% of their country’s food needs, importing a very small percentage from other countries. Getting 10 companies on the Top 50 list, coming from a country nearly the size of New Jersey is another feat.


How the Fight Against Malaria Infected the Future Map of Israel, by Nir Hasson, Haaretz, March 8, 2018. Excerpt:

Nearly 100 years ago, Dr. Israel Kligler single-handedly eradicated the disease in the Holy Land – and gave birth to the Partition Plan.

Dr. Zalman Greenberg, a Jerusalem microbiologist who is now retired from the Ministry of Health, has spent years researching the history of medicine in Israel. Twenty years ago he started compiling an extensive bibliography of microbiology studies done in the country. “One name kept popping up more than others,” he related this week. “Everywhere I looked I saw the name Kligler. I saw that he was a key researcher in the areas of microbes, worms, viruses, parasites and malaria. I thought he must be an American researcher but then I realized that he had lived and died in Israel.”

Since his discovery, Greenberg delved into the life and work of Dr. Israel Jacob Kligler. Seven years ago he was joined by Anton Alexander, a retired Jewish lawyer and history buff living in London. Through a number of studies and articles they cracked the character of a man who they claim is the founder of microbiology and public health in Israel – and most importantly, the greatest foe of malaria. He single-handedly defeated the disease not through medicine but through education and persistence.

During their research, Kligler and Alexander drew the map of malaria distribution 100 years ago. They showed that the eucalyptus trees brought here did not contribute much to warding off the disease and demonstrated the impact malaria had on shaping the borders of Israel.

1920 map contained in the British Mandate Dept. of Health review of Malaria in Palestine (1918-1941), and showing the worst malaria areas (the dark blue areas) in Palestine. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi



In possible climate breakthrough, Israel scientists engineer bacteria to eat CO₂, by Sue Surkes, Times of Israel, November 28, 2019. Excerpt:

In a remarkable breakthrough that could pave the way toward carbon-neutral fuels, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science have produced a genetically engineered bacteria that can live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar.

The extraordinary leap — reported Wednesday in Cell, and quickly picked up by prestigious publications such as Nature — could lead to the low-emissions production of carbon for use in biofuels or food that would also help to remove excess CO₂ from the atmosphere, where it is helping to drive global warming.

Plants and ocean-living cyanobacteria perform photosynthesis, taking the energy from light to transform CO₂ into a form of organic carbon that can be used to build DNA, proteins and fats.

As these photosynthesizers can be difficult to moderate genetically, the Weizmann team, under Prof. Ron Milo, took E. coli bacteria — more commonly associated with food poisoning — and spent ten years weaning them off sugar and training them to “eat” carbon dioxide instead.

Through genetic engineering, they enabled the bacteria to convert CO₂ into organic carbon, substituting the energy of the sun — a vital ingredient in the photosynthesis process — with a substance called formate, which is also attracting attention as a potential generator of clean electricity.

Prof Ron Milo of the Weizmann Institute of Sciences.


The top 12 ways Israel is feeding the world, by Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, May 21, 2019. Excerpt:

From drip irrigation to hardier seeds, Israeli innovations help fill hungry bellies everywhere, particularly in the developing world.

Food security is a critical concern as the global population expands and natural resources dwindle. Smart solutions for more efficient farming, hardier crops, alternative sources of nutrition, and safer food packaging and storage are essential.

No other single country – certainly not one as young and as tiny as Israel – has contributed more breakthroughs to this area than Israel.

Since the 1950s, Israelis have not only been finding miraculous ways to green their own desert but have shared their discoveries far and wide.

Here are 12 major ways Israel helps feed the world.

(1) Drip irrigation

While the concept of drip irrigation existed well before Israeli statehood, it was revolutionized by Israeli water engineer Simcha Blass in the 1960s and continues to transform farming across the globe.

Blass’s slow-release tubing formed the basis of the world-renowned Netafim company (sold for $1.5 billion to Mexichem in 2017) and other Israeli drip-irrigation and micro-irrigation businesses whose solutions are used worldwide.

One example of how Israeli drip irrigation has impacted food supply in foreign countries is Tipa (Drop), a kit that enables gravity to irrigate when there is no water pressure in rural areas. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has provided Tipa kits to hundreds of famers in Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Benin and Niger.

An average of 70% of the world’s water goes toward irrigation, partly because some areas still use wasteful flood irrigation. Israeli ag-tech companies such as CropX, Saturas, Manna and SupPlant help customers across the world implement efficient drip irrigation programs to use less water and produce more and better crops.

Innovation in drip irrigation is constantly evolving. In February 2019, Netafim signed a three-year research collaboration agreement with Bayer and Ben-Gurion University’s tech-transfer company regarding soil research, digital prediction tools and state-of-the-art Netafim technology to establish best practices for using drip irrigation as a precise root-delivery system.


Drip Irrigation Company Netafim Wins $100 Million Irrigation Contract in India, by Navit Zomer, CTech (via The Algemeiner), March 12, 2019. Excerpt:

Israel-based drip-irrigation company Netafim announced Monday it has secured a $100 million irrigation contract in India. Considered a pioneer in smart irrigation, Netafim will install precision irrigation systems in 100 villages across India as part of four large community irrigation projects.

Netafim was founded in southern Israeli Kibbutz Hatzerim in 1965. The company has made a name for itself developing water-efficient irrigation systems that deliver water directly to the plant instead of the soil. Today, Netafim employs over 4,500 people in 17 manufacturing plants and operates in over 110 markets through 29 subsidiaries. Netafim itself is a subsidiary of Mexico-based pipes and chemicals company Mexichem SAB de CV, which bought an 80 percent stake in the company in February 2018 at a $1.9 billion company valuation.

Israeli drip irrigation technology. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.


How Israeli Agricultural Technology is Transforming India, by Vijeta Uniyal, Legal Insurrection, May 30, 2017. Excerpt:

Away from the media limelight, away from the centre-stage of international diplomacy — a revolution is taking place. Today, Israeli agricultural technology is transforming the way millions of farmers across India cultivate and harvest.

Almost 25 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations, agricultural cooperation has undoubtedly emerged as the cornerstone of India-Israel ties. In 2008, Israel launched the India-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP) aimed at setting up specialised agriculture centres across India. Today, 15 such Centres of Excellence (CoE) are operational in India, being jointly run by MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development and India’s Ministry of Agriculture. Additionally, 12 more centres are expected to be launched in coming years, taking their number to 27.

In one such centre, located in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, experts have come up with 24 new varieties of oranges created by combining the traits of selected Israeli and Indian varieties, promising high yield and longer shelf life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAQn1ozcJeU&t=62s


Israel offers its expertise in renewable energy and drinking water to Cameroon, by Business In Camaroon, July 19, 2016. Excerpt:

During an audience granted to him by the Cameroonian Minister of Energy and Water, Basile Atangana Kouna, the Israeli ambassador in Cameroon, Ran Rigor, offered to the government his country’s expertise in the management of drinking water supply and renewable energy development projects.

Emphasising particularly on the difficulties in accessing drinking water noted in Cameroon, Ran Rigor compared Israel to the northern part of the country, facing the threat of desertification. But, he specified, Israel was able to overcome these climate and natural obstacles and turn into a country exporting water. An example which, he claims, could be duplicated I Cameroon.

The Israeli diplomat particularly specified that his country is ready to launch some projects in the two above-mentioned sectors. “The ball is in the Cameroonian camp now”, he said.


“HomeBiogas” Makes Fertilizer and Cooking Gas, by Mila Luleva, GreenOptimistic, November 25, 2015. Excerpt:

This compact biogas unit, developed by a promising Israeli startup, can turn your organic waste into both garden fertilizer and cooking gas.

If your household generates large quantities of organic waste, but not enough to make you follow our tutorial on how to build your own biogas plant, this new invention might be the right choice for you.

Developed by HomeBiogas, a start-up based in Israel, this home-sized biogas unit promises to take care of all your organic waste, including meat, dairy and animal manure. The unit produces both rich fertilizer and cooking gas, and requires relatively little space in your garden. It measures 123cm x 165cm x 100cm (48” x 65” x 39.4”) and weighs just under 40 kg (88lb).


Israel’s drip irrigation pioneer says his tech feeds a billion people, by David Shamah, Times of Israel, April 21, 2015. Excerpt:

As his firm prepares to unveil world’s biggest project in India, Rafi Mehudar, one of this year’s Independence Day torch-lighters, says the battle against famine is far from over.

As the world’s population grows, governments around the world are questioning how the billions of new mouths will be fed. The answer, according to Israeli inventor Rafi Mehudar, is right under their feet – in the drip irrigation technology he perfected for water tech firm Netafim.

Now found in farms around the world, Netafim’s irrigation and watering technology is already helping feed hundreds of millions, and, according to Mehudar, “it’s the only technology that has been proven to significantly increase the supply of food. We are already saving large parts of humanity from starving, and this is just the beginning.”

Over forty years after Netafim acquired the rights to the pressure regulator, his first drip irrigation invention, Mehudar is being feted for his accomplishments with one of the greatest honors bestowed by the state – the lighting of one of the twelve ceremonial torches that inaugurate Independence Day in Israel on Wednesday night. The torches are usually lit by individuals who have made a significant contribution to Israeli life, with the theme this year focusing on individuals who have made “breakthrough innovations” in science, technology, business, and culture.

Israel is a small country, but Netafim, with which Mehudar has been working since 1972, is a company that operates on a world-wide scale. “Netafim has sold over 150 billon drip irrigation devices, which cuts down water use by up to 90%, allowing farmers to spend less on water and more efficiently use their resources,” Mehudar told the Times of Israel in an interview.

An aerial view of Alicante, Spain, where a Netafim system recycles wastewater and distributes it via a drip-irrigation system, watering all public areas in the southern Spanish town. (Courtesy Netafim)


Israeli experts develop grapes that grow all year round, by Amir Ben-David and Akiva Novick, YNet, April 4, 2015. Excerpt:

Researchers successfully grow existing variety of seedless grape during winter months, while other scientists develop method to limit height of towering date palms.

Grapes in the winter? Apparently so. Using special pruning techniques and plastic sheeting to cover the vineyards, Israeli agriculturalists have come up with a way to “convince” grapes to ripen in the cold season too.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, researchers in the south of Israel have successfully grown an existing variety of seedless grape, Early Sweet, during the winter months. Currently, Early Sweet grapes are marketed in the summer, but Agriculture Ministry officials now say that the new method will allow farmers to grow and sell the particular variety from January through to April too.

If farmers adopt the new growing method, Israelis will be able to enjoy grapes pretty much all-year round, and at reasonable prices too.

Vineyard in the Galilee


Tel Aviv’s Hiriya “trash mountain” transformed into Israel’s “Central Park, by Chris Tackett, TreeHugger, November 18, 2013. Excerpt:

For most of the 20th century, Tel Aviv, Israel’s garbage went to a massive open landfill that eventually contained more than 25 million tons of waste and became known as Hiriya Mountain or “sh!t mountain” as locals call it. The sight and smell was horrible, it leached toxic runoff into two streams that ran adjacent to the pile causing damage to the ecosystem and thousands of birds attracted to the garbage created safety hazards to planes flying to nearby airports.

Now Israel is in the midst of the long process to transform this man-made environmental disaster into a national treasure, known as Ariel Sharon Park. The project will include more than 2,000 acres of land surrounding the mountain for ponds, recreation areas, bike and walking trails, wildlife areas, etc, making it the largest park in Israel and one of the largest urban parks in the world.

This promo video shows a digitally-produced illustration of what the park may eventually look like:


Israel’s Special Relationship with the Solar Water Heater, by Rhonda Winter, Reuters, March 18, 2011. Excerpt:

According to a study by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation, today Israel’s extensive network of solar heating systems provides over 8 percent of the country’s energy. A combination of economies of scale, coupled with the widespread awareness and education has led to tremendous cost reductions for solar power in Israel; the average time that it takes there for the energy savings to pay for the cost of solar installations is only about three years.

These days solar thermal water heating systems are just a normal component of almost every household in the nation. Nearly 90 percent of all Israeli households use solar thermal energy to heat their water, and many building are entirely powered by the sun.