The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, last Tuesday joined 49 ministers of agriculture of other countries at the opening of the biennial International Agriculture Exhibition and Conference in Tel Aviv in Israel dubbed, AGRITECH Israel, 2018.
The exhibition brought together over 600 business delegates, 120 Israeli exhibitors and over 200,000 visitors from across the world.
Turning desert to farmlands
The event offered an opportunity for other countries to learn from Israel how a country with scarce water and land could feed its people without importing much of its essential requirements.
Israel is noted for its hi-tech agricultural practice; applying the most sophisticated farming technology to turn a desert into a green field and producing various food crops, including vegetables and fruits.
The country is known to be a leader in greenhouse technology and relies heavily on irrigation, using desalinated and rain water.
In Israel, there is no waste water. Sewerage water is treated and recycled in accordance with strict standards from the country’s health sector for use in irrigating tree crops such as avocado and olive among others.
The treated waste water is fed directly to the roots of the plants such that it does not come into contact with fruits and leaves.
During the three-day exhibition, the participating countries studied Israel’s technology and innovation practices to assist them to feed their countries’ increasing populations.
Opening the exhibition, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Uri Ariel, said the goal of the exhibition and conference was to promote food security in the world through the sharing of knowledge, research, innovation and technology with regard to modernising agriculture.
He expressed the hope that countries attending the exhibition would share best practices and learn the latest methods in agriculture, particularly with respect to how Israel had been able to turn a desert into fertile farmlands that were cultivated all year round.
Mr Ariel said Israel was willing to open up its technological, research and innovation doors to the world as its contribution to ensuring global food security.
He indicated that in Israel, there was a strong linkage among agriculture, research and technology in order to constantly stay abreast of time and the needs of agriculture.
The Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, Mr Eli Cohen, noted that the large number of ministers of agriculture attending the exhibition was a demonstration of how the world appreciated Israeli technology with regard to farming and was “ready to collaborate with us to rescue the world from hunger”.
Commenting on the farming systems in Israel, Dr Akoto said the focus of Israel’s agriculture on the smallholder farmer was in line with what Ghana was doing, noting that there was room, therefore, for collaboration between the two countries.
He told his Israeli counterpart that majority of farmers in Ghana were smallholder farmers who fed the nation.
Dr Akoto said the government was committed to helping smallholder farmers by providing them with improved seeds and subsidised fertiliser to increase their productivity.