Israel to Use Crop, Water Technology to Win Friends in Africa

Israel wants to use its cutting-edge agricultural technology to improve food production — and win friends — across Africa, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

Visiting Israel’s crop-themed pavilion at the World Expo in Milan, Netanyahu said cooperation with Italy in Africa would be top of his agenda at talks with his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi in Florence on Saturday.

The Israeli premier, who is on his first major overseas trip since being re-elected in June, said Israel’s pioneering role in areas such as drip-irrigation, water recycling and desalination made it perfectly equipped to help bolster food security in Africa and elsewhere.

“We have ten times the population we had when the state was founded 67 years ago, and half the rainfall, yet we have no water problems because we were able to solve this with all these techniques,” he said.

“Now we are prepared – and are already doing our share to take this information to people around the world so they can have water, they can have crops, they can have cows that produce more milk and many other things that offer betterment for mankind.”

He added: “Italy and Israel are today cooperating in one African country (Senegal) to better their agriculture.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a visit to the World Expo in Milan on August 27, 2015/Giuseppe Cacace, AFP

“Why one? Why not twenty, why not thirty? If we pool our resources, our knowledge, our technology we can help many, many countries in Africa to not only better agriculture and to better life (sic).”

In the section of his statement in Hebrew, Netanyahu was more explicit about the diplomatic pay-off Israel could expect for such aid.

“People today around the world have a better quality of life thanks to Israeli technology and innovation.

“This is much stronger than any boycott.”

  • Vertical field –

Netanyahu was speaking in front of a giant “vertical field” of wheat, rice and corn that has helped to make Israel’s pavilion one of the top draws at the six-month long world fair.

The structure, which is 12 metres tall and 70 metres long is intended to showcase Israeli expertise in the drip-irrigation technology that has enabled the cultivation of crops in arid areas around the world after being first developed on a kibbutz in the Negev desert.

The innovative ‘standing-up’ field was developed specially for the Expo but pavilion spokesman Menachem Gantz said it is hoped the design could serve as a model for architects seeking to create green spaces in tight urban areas.

The field is accompanied by a walk-through video exhibition outlining Israel’s role in agricultural innovation, from Zionist agronomist’s Aaron Aaronsohn’s 1906 discovery of “the mother of wheat” on Mount Hermon to the development of commercially viable cherry tomatoes in the 1990s.

According to Gantz, nearly one million people have visited the exhibition since it opened on May 1.

“The theme of the Expo is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,’ and we have represented that,” Gantz said. “These kind of drip-drip systems enable crops to be grown with 70 percent less water than traditional irrigation takes and, for rice, the precision of the watering means the yields are twice as high.

“Most people now see Israel as a high-tech country but that culture has it roots in the way we had to innovate to get as much as we could from the land.”

After his tour of the Israeli pavilion, Netanyahu was scheduled to take in those of Italy, the United States and China.

After that he has no official engagements until his Saturday evening meeting with Renzi.

The Israeli leader is due next month to visit London, where a petition has been launched urging his arrest for alleged Israeli war crimes during the 51-day offensive by Israeli forces in Gaza last year.



  1. No doubt, Israel, has not only the Technology, but has demonstrated all through the early 1970s – that is before pero$ hijacked africa – that its heart in the right place when it comes to matters Africa, and can definitely totally eradicate hunger in Africa with both its technology, work ethics and heart towards Africa in 10 years, if not five – predicated, of course on the premises that that is what Africa really really wants!

    Mind you there is enough food produced in Africa at the moment, but most of it lies rotten, or is exported ‘the back-way” to other parts of the world, including fish and timber – yes timber is food if you consider that trees bring rain, and the land it grows on, could be sustainably turned to food production.

    Come back to Africa Israel, and rouse Babylon with your (mostly) paper tiger development economists – mother of all evil and abominations of the earth!

    • Gabriel sambou

      Do you have a better ideas why not share it that criticised someone offering to help
      What have you contributed in our food production?Zero,Nada,nothing better you zip it

  2. pa Gaye

    Africa should mind because Israel is not a partner. The world is witnessing what is happening in the middle east. Africa we should take our problems into our hands and stop depending on outsiders, we are seeing Palestine-Isreal almost everyday Africa. Do we want to end up like Palestine? In Africa-Isreal relationship no matter what Africa will lose. GOD BLESS AFRICA.

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