by: Janet Aslin and Ilse Strauss, Bridges for Peace
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, is well-known for his belief in the importance of the nation’s southern desert regions. He said, “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.” Since the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, farmers and researchers alike have been working side by side to fulfill Ben-Gurion’s vision as well as Isaiah’s prophetic words that “…the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isa. 35:1b)—with tremendous success.
Israelis have never been a people who keep the benefits of their achievements to themselves, sharing the fruit of years of labor and research with those who want to follow in Israel’s footsteps to farm semi-arid areas around the world. “Many farmers…look to Israel as a model of how to manage and flourish in conditions of water scarcity and a hotter, drier climate,” Ram Fishman, director of Tel Aviv University’s Nitsan Sustainable Development Lab, tells Israel21c.
Farmers in the US and Europe are often first in line to buy and implement the Israeli solutions. However, millions of farmers from developing countries in Africa and Asia do not have the same kind of funds their counterparts in developed countries do, and therefore cannot afford the Israeli technology, Israel21c explains. This is where Nitsan Sustainable Development Lab comes in.
Fishman and his team believe that the power of Israeli innovation can make the greatest difference among those who do not necessarily have easy access to it. Nitsan thus enables “Israeli technology and its innovation system in agriculture, water, energy and other fields to diffuse and realize their potential to assist sustainable development in low-income settings,” the Nitsan website explains.
This entails Fishman and his team conducting intensive field work researching the prevalent problems facing farming communities in rural Asia and Africa and then implementing an Israeli solution to address the issue.
“We do have an amazing amount of knowledge and experience from agronomists, farmers, companies and R&D centers,” Israel21c quoted Fishman. “Our lab’s purpose is to be a bridge between these smallholder farmers and Israeli expertise and technology.”
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