Saturday September 5, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Laura Kam

The innovations Obama won't see

Israel will proudly present a number of amazing technological innovations during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel. But, due to time constraints, significant innovations that also demonstrate Israel's knowledge and skills will be left out of the presentation.

Israel is tremendously prolific at inventing and designing advances in fields that help make the world a better place.

Surely Obama is aware that food security is the coming crisis in world diplomacy. Israeli agriculture and water technologies have already helped to feed millions of people, and Israeli experts and their innovative technology are continually helping the world's developing nations face this urgent new challenge.

Soaring prices, growing shortages and burgeoning population growth have already sparked unrest across the African continent, and the situation could be a harbinger of worse to come across the globe and closer to home.

None of the underlying causes of the growing crisis — population growth, climate change that threatens to flood large areas of cultivated land, and rising transport costs due to possible oil disruptions — are likely to recede in the near future. The fact is, they will likely intensify.

Israel, a desert nation once challenged by its arid geography and a population explosion, has long fed its own population and has invested heavily in research and development to increase food production.

For decades now Israeli agriculture experts have been sharing their know-how with some of the fastest growing and wealthiest nations, as well as some of the poorest regions on earth, creating sustainable self-sufficiency in food and water supplies. Examples of smart, feasible and affordable Israeli solutions are plentiful.

MASHAV, Israel's Center for International Cooperation, was established in 1958 as a division of the Foreign Ministry. Its agricultural program, the Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation, was founded on the belief that Israel's agricultural miracle can be replicated in other countries facing the same kinds of severe food challenges that Israel once faced. According to MASHAV, "Israel's own tested solutions for problems such as water, capital and land shortages can help the countries of the developing world transform their agriculture from traditional subsistence to sophisticated market-oriented production. It is for this reason many countries of the developing world have sought partnership with Israel addressing their own agricultural challenges."

In recent years, Israeli expertise has been heavily in demand in India, Africa and China, home to more than half the world's population. Israel's milk yields demonstrate why:

An Israeli cow produces an average of 11,381 kilograms (25,090 pounds) of milk per year, significantly outpacing every nation in the world. Cows in the U.S. yield 9,331 kilograms (20,570 pounds) of milk annually; in Japan, 7,490 (16,512); in Europe, 6,139 (13,534); in Australia, 5,601 (12,348); in Russia, 3,698 (8,152); and in China, 2,832 (6,243). Imagine how one cow's yield could change the life of a family in a developing country if Israeli innovation is used in its care.

Seventy percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, but almost all of it, 97.5%, is saltwater. Israel is subject to this same ratio, and has long been a world leader in desalination, the process that converts saltwater to freshwater so it is suitable for human consumption or irrigation. This process is absolutely vital to the desert regions of Israel, and in vast swaths of Africa, China and India, where freshwater is in limited supply.

Israel's irrigation skill, owing to its limited freshwater supplies and meager rainfall in much of the country, has become legendary. Israeli companies have become world leaders in irrigation technology, water management and treatment and desalinization. Israel reuses water at world-leading rates, recycling 75% of its wastewater, mostly for agriculture.

Israel has become a leading powerhouse on an abundance of food-related issues, and is ready to continue to share its technological innovations and expertise to help feed the world and keep it safe.

At a time when there is so much focus on what Israel is doing wrong, there is so much that it is doing right. So much more than an hour-long presentation can demonstrate.

Laura Kam is an international public relations and strategic communications expert.

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