SMART, SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE IN ISRAEL: WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
Israel, a mid-eastern country is a country whose agricultural past was full of challenges and setbacks. These setbacks include deforestation, soil erosion and water shortage. Surprisingly, Israel is presently a major exporter of fresh produce and a world-leader in agricultural technologies.
Taking an in-depth study into Israel’s Agricultural system, from the innovations and adoptions of different strategies to make up for deficiencies, there are key lessons Nigeria can learn. They include:
1. Development of improved breeds of crops and livestock:
Government and bodies concerned should invest in research and innovations. Researches should be aimed at producing or developing improved breeds and varieties of crops and livestock. These breeds or varieties should be able to produce increased yield under normal local climatic conditions.
2. Introduction of Irrigation and Water Technologies
With the shortage of water evident in Northern Nigeria as well as the effect of climatic change on the nation at large, water harvesting and conservation should be introduced and promoted using strategies that are eco-friendly. More so, with irregularities in rainfall, irrigation systems should be adopted. After all, irrigated farms yield more than farms that are rain-fed.
3. Adoption of biological pest control
In place of chemical control of pests through the use of pesticides which are poisonous to water bodies and in large quantities, to the soil, biological pest control can be adopted. This prevents as well as reduces water and soil pollution which are resources crucial to agriculture. Furthermore, it retains the organic content of the farm produce.
4. Increment in use of appropriate fertilizers
With the gross deterioration in soil’s fertility, application of the appropriate type of fertiliser in recommended quantities is essential. Also, in increasing yields and environmental responsiveness, organic fertilisers are the most advisable to use. One of Israel’s great innovations remains a soil conditioner (vermiculite) which boosted crop yields when mixed with local soils.
5. Adoption of Mechanisation and Agro-technology in Agriculture
One good thing we can learn from Israel’s agricultural pathway to a booming economy, is the introduction of mechanisation and agro-technology. Adopting full mechanised farming and stabilising it with time will inevitably grow and expand Nigeria’s agricultural sector.
6. Intensification of Integration into Agricultural Value Chains
Due to intervention and regulation by the Israeli’s government, farm surpluses have been eliminated. There is therefore the need for government support to facilitate the integration of smallholder farmers into larger cooperatives and groups, which may in turn be needed in other areas that aid integration with wider markets. Also, there is need for governments and sectors to provide loans, credit facilities, infrastructure and technical know-how so as to intensify integration.
If Israel, a country that is 60% desert through good governance, encouraging conservation and making use of available technology, smart pricing and sustainable agricultural practices produces not only most of its own food, but also exports $1.3 billion worth of agricultural produce annually, how about Nigeria, a nation blessed with ample arable land?