Thursday, September 10, 2015


By Israel 21C
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Food security is a major concern for our rapidly growing planet. As resources dwindle and the population rises, smart solutions for better agriculture and safer food storage are essential.

No other single country – certainly not one as young and as tiny as Israel – has contributed more breakthroughs in 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 through channels including MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
ISRAEL21c has highlighted dozens of food-related advances pioneered by Israelis. Here are 12 major ways Israel helps feed the world.

7. Squeezing every drop of water from the air
Tal-Ya Water Technologies developed reusable plastic trays to collect dew from the air, reducing the water needed by crops or trees by up to 50 percent.
The square serrated trays, made from non-PET recycled and recyclable plastic with UV filters and a limestone additive, surround each plant or tree. With overnight temperature change, dew forms on both surfaces of the Tal-Ya tray, which funnels the dew and condensation straight to the roots. If it rains, the trays heighten the effect of each millimeter of water 27 times over.
Inventor and CEO Avraham Tamir told ISRAEL21c that the trays also block the sun so weeds can’t take root, and protect the plants from extreme temperature shifts. “Farmers need to use much less water, and in turn much less fertilizer on the crop,” which translates to less groundwater contamination.

8. Unparalleled crop protection
Two years ago, Hebrew University’s tech-transfer company teamed with Makhteshim Agan, a world leader in crop protection products, to develop and commercialize slow-release herbicides and a targeted insecticide that doesn’t harm beneficial insects.
The total worldwide herbicide market is valued at more than $15 billion, of which approximately a quarter is dedicated to soil-applied herbicides and other pesticides. The Israeli approach incorporates herbicides into micelles or vesicles, which are absorbed onto negatively charged clay minerals to enable a slow and controlled release, reducing leaching to deeper soil layers. This enhances efficiency and reduces the required doses.
The novel insecticide kills caterpillars of night-flying moths – a common scourge for farmers worldwide – but unlike common commercial preparations, has minimal or no effect on any other creature. High levels of control can be achieved with much less product, greatly minimizing environmental impact.

9. Fishing in the desert
Overfishing is a serious threat to the food supply, a grave situation since fish is the main source of protein for hundreds of millions of people. But what if fish could be raised virtually anywhere, even in the desert? That is just what the Israel’s GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) Advanced Systems has made possible.
The Israeli “zero-discharge” system eliminates the environmental problems in conventional fish farming, and doesn’t depend on electricity or proximity to a body of water. Specially developed microbes purify fish waste byproducts right in the tank, with no need for spillage and refilling.
The largest facility using GFA technology, in New York, produced about 100 tons of sea bream, bass and tilapia in 2010.

10. Food from greenhouse gas
Israel’s Seambiotic clean-tech company recently launched a commercial algae farm in China and does business in the United States and Italy as well.
People don’t eat algae, but algae ponds nourished by power-plant effluent conserve farmed produce for human consumption because they generate 30 times more feedstock for biofuel than do land-based crop alternatives.
Plus, the tiny plants, which thrive on carbon dioxide and sunlight, produce a valuable nutraceutical food additive that is especially popular in the Far East.

11. Reintroducing carp to Africa
Half a century ago, Lake Victoria carp was a significant part of the diet of the nearby Ugandan villagers. But when Nile perch was introduced to the lake, it decimated most of the smaller fish including the carp. Villagers had neither the equipment nor the expertise necessary to start fishing the huge perch, and symptoms of protein deficiency started becoming apparent in their children.
Prof. Berta Sivan of Hebrew University came to the rescue with a multiyear project near to help these African families. Her team was able to apply techniques developed over many years for Israeli fish farmers.
The Israeli project not only successfully spawned carp on Ugandan fish farms, but also provided training on how to dig and fill ponds and raise the small fish. Now local children have an abundant supply of protein to eat with their fruit and vegetables.

12. Hardier seeds for better crops
Hebrew University agricultural scientists Ilan Sela and Haim D. Rabinowitch developed TraitUP, a trademarked technology that enables the introduction of genetic materials into seeds without modifying their DNA. This method immediately and efficiently improves plants before they’re even sowed.
The university’s Yissum Research Development technology transfer company licensed the seed treatment technology to Morflora Israel for curing fruit-tree diseases in orchards and groves, and for seedling treatment in the nursery.
“The new ability to deliver traits within days instead of years, and to offer a treatment with results similar to breeding to all current species, answers a long and unmet need that will revolutionize modern agriculture and significantly impact the vegetable and commodity crop markets,” said Dotan Peleg, CEO of Morflora.

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