Made in Israel: Agriculture

Made in Israel: Agriculture

in 1867 Mark Twain toured the land of Israel known back then as Palestine here's how he described it a desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds a silent mournful expanse there was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes desolate and unlovely today Mark Twain wouldn't even recognize this land out of rocky soil kind of swamps and even out of deserts his Raley's have created gardens vineyards and farms with some of the most innovative techniques in the world it was just this country with incredible dynamism and energy and excitement and food and people and a sense of family and ultimately a sense of belonging it's been said that the modern State of Israel was born on the kibbutz so it's only natural that much of Israel's innovation was born there as well the kibbutz is the cornerstone in a lot of ways of a lot of things in Israeli society people came back wanting to create a collective and an equal society and these kibbutzim became a very very effective way to defend the land to start getting young people engaged in agriculture but Jews were forbidden in most countries of the world to actually own land or to work the land Jews couldn't be farmers to all of a sudden see a generation of Jews farming the land in the collective environment was incredible before Israel even became a state Jews by the thousands came to live there on communal farms but when they arrived in the promised land it wasn't exactly flowing with milk and honey the coastal plains were swampy the Galilee in the Judean Hills were rocky and the southern half of the country was mostly desert since the people of Israel left our homeland two thousand years ago the area was mismanaged so we want to preserve and rehabilitate this holy land the early Jewish settlers faced a number of obstacles from bad soil to Bedouin Raiders but they faced an even bigger enemy that threatened to destroy the Jewish state before it began in the early decades of the 20th century Israel was a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria they overtook the coastal plains in the Jordan Valley the only land available for Jews to buy since the local Arabs had decided it was uninhabitable in 1920 more than a third of all Jewish residents of Palestine had malaria so with no other choice they went to work they drained the swamps and sprayed the land and changed the flow of water and irrigation canals to interrupt the mosquitoes breeding they were so successful that a commission from the League of Nations visited Palestine to learn what they did less than 20 years after Israel's statehood the country was officially malaria free once the threat of malaria was gone Jewish settlers were free to focus on making the desert bloom in the coastal plains citrus groves replaced the swamps in the Jordan Valley what's the center of the malaria epidemic now became the country's breadbasket the Negev desert blossomed with newly planted forests and vineyards and the Arve once the most arid part of Israel became the site of a flourishing vegetable industry all of this was accomplished in the first 20 years of Israel's statehood in that time they more than doubled their standard of living and now they're using their experience to help other countries in the 1970s they created a new breed of cherry tomato that's disease resistant and has a longer shelf life they also bred a new kind of potato that can be grown in hot dry climates and irrigated by saltwater these vegetables are now being grown in dry countries like Jordan Egypt and Morocco Israeli scientists not only found ways to grow more crops they also found new ways to preserve them grain Pro cocoons provide an inexpensive way for farmers to keep their grain market fresh by keeping out water air and insects the Israeli cocoons are being used in Africa the Far East and even Pakistan a nation with no diplomatic ties to Israel the kibbutz over time began to change Israeli society began to change in more capitalistic in more focused on free enterprise and entrepreneurship and then the individual taking responsibility for himself and therefore benefiting the overall society there have been many very exciting companies that have been built in kyboot seen one of those companies is now doing business around the world which the average Israeli 1012 years ago and since the more Ganic they won't have a clue what you were talking about here we've been doing organic farming for over 40 years ebooks stay eliyahu was founded by German refugees in 1934 and many of their early members were survivors of the Holocaust it's the biggest problem that we had when we started the organic was what do you do if you're not using chemicals how do you get rid of the pests their answer was to fight bugs with more bugs every single thing in nature has a natural enemy what eats or what attacks these pests that are attacking our crops they started breeding different insects in the bomb shelter of the kyboots the idea was to breed predators to destroy the pests that ate their crops the result was a new company called bio B we went to Israeli farmers we said want to buy some bugs I said what are you crazy five bugs eventually they won over farmers in Israel and in 32 other countries as well in California 60% of the strawberry fields are treated with products from bio beet the company also found a way to deal with one of the region's most devastating insects the Mediterranean fruit flock we take the male's of the species and we sterilize them and then we release the sterile males into the environment there's no future generation and slowly slowly we lower the population without using harmful chemicals they also solved another agricultural problem how to pollinate greenhouse plants the classic example we like to give is tomato plants tomato plants in the in nature in the fields are pollinated by the wind in Israel the majority of our tomatoes are not grown in the fields they're grown in greenhouses and in greenhouse in the climate controlled environment you don't have that winds you don't have the natural pollination we had to find other methods of pollination their solution was to breed bumblebees they collect pollen for food they have to go and work even in cold weather conditions they don't have stores of honey in the hive they have to go and work we're saving the farmer money because instead of paying people the bees are doing the work and the bees unlike people they don't miss a single flower so once the farmers started using the bees for pollination the yield of the tomato crops increased by 25% in Hebrew we say Madara boumaaza hello kima you know how great and wonderful are your creations God and this really shows that every single thing has a reason there's a purpose for everything these tiny little things and look how much good they do for us for the world for the far for the environment it's really really amazing farmers at stay eliyahu not only targeted insects they also found a creative way to get rid of rodents as well what we used to do is basically used to take poison in a bottle and a tea spoon and somebody's job was to walk up and down the rows and every time they saw a mouse hole to take a tea spoon of poison and throw it down the hole now obviously that's not ecologically friendly on top of that if it rains or if we irrigate our fields all that poisons going in the grounds so we said what is a natural solution to rodents and the natural solution that we found is the barn owl barn owl is an amazing Raptor to owls can capture an average of two to five thousand mice a year okay that's a lot of rodents there was just one problem with the Owls they fly away and one of the places they would fly to is Jordan which is very close by in Jordan they were shooting them an arab folklore the barn owl is a harbinger of death and they're very superstitious about barn owls so they see in a barn owl they shoot it so very simply we went to Jordan and we invited the Jordanian farmers to come to Stelio to see what we were doing here this was over 20 years ago and today we have over 2,600 nesting boxes across the country numbers keep growing but also it's become a wonderful program of regional cooperation also with Jordan also with the Palestinian Authority this has been amazing amazing a success story we tell the people it's not the Dove bringing peace and eemiller to the Middle East it's the barn owl we're a light unto the nations and we're supposed to be anyway if we want to really save the environment if we really want to help the world then we can't keep these things to ourselves we have to share these things we have to share this knowledge and I think by helping others we're helping ourselves as well you

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