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The future of agriculture lies in Israel’s desert

Farmers in arid areas of India need no convincing that the climate is changing under their feet. Their income is drying up along with their groundwater wells, forcing many to give up farming.

As these kinds of situations become more common, help is coming from Tel Aviv University’s Nitsan Sustainable Development Lab directed by Ram Fishman, an expert on smallholder farmers and climate change. His team assesses agriculture, water and energy problems in rural Asia and Africa and finds Israeli technologies to solve them.

“Many farmers around the world look to Israel as a model of how to manage and flourish in conditions of water scarcity and a hotter, drier climate,” Fishman tells ISRAEL21c. That’s true in both developed and developing economies. For example, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research work with partners in several US states on projects related to the changing conditions.

Fishman, however, sees the potential to make the greatest difference in developing countries. Millions of smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia serve enormous markets but don’t have the resources to buy and implement Israeli solutions as easily as do American and European farmers.

“In Africa and Asia, they see Israel as the source of solutions. Sometimes they have exaggerated notions of what Israel can do and how it manages without enough water. But even if blown a little out of proportion, there is a lot of truth in that notion,” Fishman says.

“We do have an amazing amount of knowledge and experience from agronomists, farmers, companies and R&D centers. Our lab’s purpose is to be a bridge between these smallholder farmers and Israeli expertise and technology.” 

Read more at Israel 21c (Abigail Klein Leichman) 

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