How can a country just slightly bigger than New Jersey help feed the world?

Israel is uniquely positioned to help alleviate food insecurity. At the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) meeting in Chicago on February 6, Daniel Chamovitz said that Israel’s history has provided Israelis with the skills they need to grow much of their own food.

Chamovitz is the director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences and founder of the Program in Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University.

The JCRC is part of the Jewish United Fund (JUF), which has funded a year-long initiative to raise awareness and mobilize volunteers in the areas of hunger and food insecurity. The JUF Hunger Awareness Project includes volunteer opportunities and educational programs nationwide.

How is Israel helping to feed the world?

  1. Drip irrigation was revolutionized by Israeli water engineer Simcha Blass, who discovered that a slow and balanced drip leads to remarkable growth.
  2. Biological Pest Control that is made by a company called Bio-Bee, which breeds beneficial insects and mites for natural pollination in greenhouses and open fields.
  3.  Tailor-made Farm Solutions help producers grow fruits and vegetables, raise poultry and dairy cows, manage vineyards and make olive oil. A company called Agricultural Knowledge On-Line makes unique software that gives farmers throughout the world access to information from Israeli experts.
  4. Better potatoes that thrive in hot, dry climates and can be irrigated by saltwater can be found in Israel. As one of the top sources of nutrition for the world, potatoes can now be grown in hot desert regions in the Middle East.
  5. Fishing in the desert is now possible. Overfishing is a threat to the global food supply, but Grow Fish Anywhere Advanced Systems has made it possible to raise fish in the desert. The “zero-discharge” system doesn’t rely on electricity or water to raise fish. Specially developed microbes purify fish waste byproducts in the tank, with no need for refilling.

Israelis’ experience with dry ground, drip irrigations systems, saline-adaptable crops, heat-tolerant livestock, along with the country’s social innovation and their sense of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, has helped them make strides towards alleviating world hunger. Chamovitz discussed how food insecurity affects political and economic landscapes as well.

“Food insecurity leads to social and political insecurity,” he said. As an example, he stated, “The Arab Spring was not fed by a drive for democracy but by a drive to have food and the increase in bread prices.”

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Jewish United Fund, Israel 21c
Photo: Serious Seats