(Note: Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell is participating in a farmer-to-farmer mission to Israel.)
SALEM, Ohio – It’s only about the size of New Jersey, just 10 miles wide in one area, but Israel has a lot to teach Ohio agriculture.
Twenty-eight Ohioans are currently traveling with Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey on a trade mission to Israel. The group, which left Ohio Feb. 26, hopes to identify ways Ohio can learn from Israeli agricultural ventures and open doors for future exports directly from the Buckeye State to Israel.
It’s intense. A country with only 17 percent arable land, Israel kicked its ag industry into high gear in the 1960s. It is, in a word, intensive agriculture, making the most out of limited land and water resources.
Ohio-Israel link. Through the Cleveland-based Negev Foundation, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has already developed projects linking Ohio and Israel.
Ohio products like beef calves, pet food, popcorn, honey, hardwoods, and race and show horses are being exported to Israel.
In return, Ohio is importing technology in the form of mini-dairy processing equipment and calf nursing stations, and making connections to boost ag-related economic development in the state. For example, an Israel-based manufacturer of soy proteins is looking at a Wayne County site to locate a new production plant.
Ohio and Israel have also developed joint agricultural research projects, including testing of an organic fungicide.
The foundation’s Ohio-Israel Agricultural and Rural Development Initiative is the first of its kind, drawing on government, academic, and business leaders, trade associations and individual residents and farmers to improve agricultural trade and R&D ties between Ohio and Israel. The initiative was started in 2002.
High tech. Although small in land area, and with half its land classified as “arid,” Israel currently grows and processes 85 percent of its own food. And that takes know-how and investment in research to turn obstacles into opportunities.
In the short time since it was formed in 1948, Israel has advanced from simple production methods to high-tech irrigation, desalinization, and food processing. What it lacks in natural resources, it makes up for in intelligence.
Dailey said Israel provides “unique information and opportunities to us in Ohio, especially in the field of high-tech agriculture.”
“They have limited space and resources, yet, in addition to feeding their own populous, they export food and are globally known for horticulture, aquaculture, and drip-irrigation systems.”
Busy. While in Israel, the group will attend the Agro Mashov International Exhibit, an agricultural trade show in Tel Aviv.
The group will also tour dairy and beef farms, aquaculture facilities, agricultural research centers and meet with government officials.
Israel: Farming in the desert