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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

It’s Elul — But Shmita Has a Long Way To Go, Israeli Farmers Say

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

For some Israeli farmers, the Shmitah year still has a long way to go — another year, in fact.

According to Dave Matkowsky, founder of The Shmitah Fund, observance of Shmitah does not actually end with Rosh HaShanah, the start of the new, eighth year.

The time that farmers can replant, or begin their crops anew, actually varies according to the crop due to a combination of agricultural, economic and halachic (Torah legal) reasons.

Shimon Chazut, a farmer in Moshav Gimzu, has vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards. “Shmitah for citrus is the eighth year,” he said. “For olives it’s the eighth year… with grapes, until you sell the wine it’s the eighth year too.

“It will be much harder in the eighth year than in the seventh.”

Matkowsky, an alumnus of Yeshiva University, established the nonprofit organization in order to ease the financial burden of Israeli farmers who are fulfilling this central religious-national imperative.

“The ability of the Jewish nation to flourish in the Land of Israel is intrinsically connected to Shmitah,” Matkowsky told JewishPress.com. “But it’s time for us to do our part. The farmers will not make it without our help.”

For the farmers and their families, the challenges of shmitah do not end with replanting, but only months later with the harvest and ability to bring their crops to market, Matkowsky explained.

“Halachically, fruit trees are prohibited until the new crop begins to reach maturity in mid-April, 2016. Some crops can be planted beginning in November 2015 (grains, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, etc)

“Other crops cannot be planted until May 2016 because of their natural agricultural cycle (eggplant, zucchini, squash, etc.)

“Crops typically cultivated in greenhouses and hothouses (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, leaf vegetables) cannot be planted until April 2016 for economic reasons; the cost of planting sooner would exceed revenue and farmers would be forced to sell at a loss,” he added.

Currently there are 3,453 Shmita-observant farmers who need help to get through this cycle and get back on their feet, according to Matkowsky.

The budget for the last Shmita was $15 million. This cycle, with over 1,000 additional farmers, will cost $22.5 million.

PA Arab Terror Suspected in Death of Israeli Farmer

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

A group of Palestinian Authority Arab workers who entered Israel illegally are believed to have beaten 70-year-old Rehovot farmer David Ben-Kafra to death at Moshav Pedaya for nationalistic reasons.

“This is a nationalistic matter — he had no enemies,” a heartbroken family member told Israel HaYom late in the day. “He was a father of five, a grandfather of 14. He was loved by everyone; he never had problems with anyone.”

However, “We are waiting for information from the police and are certain they will do their job faithfully,” said the victim’s son, Daniel Bar, who serves as a spokesperson for the Ministry of Religious Services and currently also as interim spokesperson for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Members of the centrally-located moshav called police when they found Ben-Kafra with severe head wounds and other injuries. Police were told by other workers that he was assaulted by several Palestinian Authority workers at the moshav orchard. Ben-Kafra was immediately rushed to Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in nearby Tzrifin, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police have launched an investigation into the attack, and said a nationalist motive for the murder has not yet been established. However, according to initial information indicates the attackers were indeed PA Arabs who were illegally residing in pre-1967 Israel.

Pres. Rivlin Receives ‘First Fruits of the Field’ for Shavuot

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin is reaping the fruits of years invested in good relations with Israeli farmers.

On Thursday, the president and his wife Nechama received two big baskets of fruit and vegetables from the nation’s farmers, in concert with the tradition of bringing the “first fruits of the field” to Jerusalem on the eve of Shavuot.

In the time of the Holy Temple, reminded Meir Yifrah, a member of Moshav Ohad (near the Gaza border) and the secretary-general of the Israel Vegetable Growers’ Association, the custom was scrupulously observed, with farmers bringing their produce to the Kohanim (priests) of the Temple. Today, he smiled, they are bringing their produce instead to the President of the State of Israel. Along with Yifrah were farmers from every part of the country.

For 20 years, MK Rivlin was a member of the lobby that advocated for the farmers of Israel, working for subsidies when things got tough.

On Thursday, Rivlin offered to become an active voice for the farmers once more. It’s not a new move for him; Rivlin has always taken an interest in agricultural affairs, partly because his wife Nechama was born on a moshav (an agricultural cooperative community.)

Due to this being the shemittah – seventh – year, in which the fields are allowed to lie fallow, there are fewer varieties and less to offer, but what there is was brought and received with joy.

Agritech Startups Showcase Technologies at AgriVest Conference

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Some of the most promising and innovative Israeli agritech startups pitched their technologies yesterday (April 27) at the third International AgriVest Conference held at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The conference is an initiative of Invest in Israel, the investment promotion center at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the Trendlines Group and Trendlines Agtech.

Some 350 business people, entrepreneurs, government officials, scientists and investors from Israel and abroad attended the conference.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Nitza Kardish, CEO of Trendlines Agtech called the AgriVest conference “a unique platform for Israeli startups and entrepreneurs to meet with investors and key people in the global agricultural industry.” Kardish said the gathering provided a place to “reveal the potential of investing in innovative developments.”

Chairman and CEO of the Trendlines Group Steve Rhodes added, “The global growth of investment in agritech 2014 reached a record breaking $2.36 billion raised which is testimony to positive trends in this sphere.”

The highlight of the conference was a competition between 12 Israeli startups out of 40 that applied for the privilege, who presented the newest innovations in Israel’s agricultural technology.

At the event DouxMax was crowned the winner following assessment and grading by the participants.

DouxMax has developed a method to create special, sweeter sugar in an effort to reduce the amount of sugar required in foods.

BioFishency, developers of an all-in-one water treatment system for land-based aquaculture was also awarded a prize for its system to increase the number of fish threefold while reducing water usage.

“AgriVest showcases technologies that will enable us to produce unique foodstuffs, additives, seeds and agricultural products to combat the stress on our dwindling natural resources,” said Gideon Soesman, co-founder and managing partner of GreenSoil Investments.

“Investing in new crops, treatment methods, waste reduction and yield enhancement will provide solutions to the world’s food crisis and can deliver sizable returns to investors.”

Hamas ‘Tax’ Revenue from Israeli Imports: NIS 175,000,000

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Despite was what supposed to have been a complete disengagement from Gaza, and the Gazan’s direct border crossing with Egypt, Israel still remains the preferred, and sometimes the only choice for Gazans who want to import and export goods and merchandise.

And Hamas terrorists are making a tidy sum off that trade, according to a Makor Rishon report.

After Israel completely evacuated all the Jews from Gaza and Gush Katif in 2005, the Palestinian Authority took over. But in 2007, Hamas violently took over the Gaza strip, slaughtering their political opponents.

Since the terrorist organization’s coup Hamas has been the primary terror group in charge of the Gaza Strip.

Despite Hamas, civilian trade with Israel still continued.

In 2014, 61,000 trucks passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel to Gaza. That crossing is located in southern Gaza near Rafah. There is also trade that goes through the northern Erez crossing.

During Operation Protective Edge, over 130,000 tons of merchandise crossed into Gaza. 15% of Israeli fruit are exported to Gaza.

Gaza has also recently begun exporting produce to Judea and Samaria, and 40 trucks have already passed into Israel in the past few months.

This past week, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai held an agricultural conference in which farmers and distributors from Gaza participated – in Israel.

Gazan importers are looking for even lower prices than they get now, and during the conference it came out why.

Gazan importers must pay protection money to Hamas of between 50 to 100 shekels per ton, on products imported from Israel.

And that’s just to start off with.

In addition, each truck that passes into Gaza is charged a fee.

Canned goods and potatoes are charged an additional 1800 shekels per truck, trucks carrying coffee pay Hamas 2500 shekels per truck, and each truck transporting clothing into Israel pays 4000 shekels to Hamas.

It’s estimated that Hamas’s 2014 “tax” revenue from Israeli imports stands at 175 million shekels ($45 million dollars). You can build a lot of terror tunnels and rockets with that kind of money.

Hamas also takes a cut from the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai.

The Gazans said that before the war this past summer their economic situation was difficult, but now everything is collapsing.

At the conference, the Gazans said they missed Gush Katif and working with the Jewish Settlers.

One Gazan at the conference said, “We worked there with the Jews [from Gush Katif] and everything was good.” He continued, “We’re still in contact with them, and dream of those bygone days. Now there is no hope. My children want candy, but there isn’t any money to buy them any. My son wants to get married. I look to the sky and pray, because I know that I can’t help them.”

One wouldn’t be wrong if you thought many Gazans want the IDF to kick Hamas out, and for the Jews come back home — to Gush Katif.

China Buys Israeli Smart Irrigation Tech Company for $20 Million

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

China’s Yuanda Enterprise Group announced last week that it had bought the Israeli company AutoAgronome Israel Ltd for $20 million in order to expand its business to high-tech agriculture. The Israeli company produces smart irrigation and fertilization systems that are successfully used with 70 different types of crops in 13 countries including the United Kingdom.

“The movement to new technology is huge. Every year, the area of drip irrigation system farming in China increases about 20 percent, which is more than all in Israel and Europe together. It’s a huge market in China,” said Nissim Daniely, the general manager of AutoAgronom in China Daily.

Scientists at the China Agricultural University in Beijing believe that smart-farming techniques are the key to China’s food problems in a study released in early September. The acquisition of the Israeli smart irrigation tech company is significant in China’s struggles with food security.

Founded in 1988, AutoAgronom is the only full automatic system in the world which applies water and fertilizers without human intervention according to the company’s website. The system is based on more than 20 years of research and can reduce water consumption per acre from 500 tons to 150 tons, making it an affordable alternative for farmers.

“The plant tells you what it wants exactly with this system,” said David Kaholi, an Israeli farmer of the AutoAgronom system. The system works through monitoring the root of the plant with sensors and an electronic tensiometer that works around the clock, transmitting data from the root to the controller software. On the basis of the data reaching the system, it will decrease or increase fertilizer and water amounts, saving up to 50% in water and 70% in fertilizer delivery, while increasing yield.

Decreasing fertilizer use also protects the environment as less fertilizer pollutants reach underground water and lakes.

The Chinese company will take over the marketing for Israeli system. “Our cooperation is like a marriage. We offer technology and Yuanda focuses on marketing,” added Daniely.
Yuanda is also making plans to take the Israeli system abroad. “The system can help us to farm on sand, saline-alkali soil or even on the Gobi [desert], which may restore underground water and help manage heavy metal and garbage pollution,” said Kang Baohua, chairman of the Yuanda Enterprise Group in the China Daily.

IDF Stands By as Al Qaeda Offensive Threatens Golan Farmers

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

The IDF warned Golan Heights farmers Sunday that they are liable to be victims of stray rocket and mortar shell fire as Al Qaeda-led rebels advance in their offensive against the army of Syrian President Bassar al-Assad.

At least one mortar shell exploded in the northern Golan Heights on Friday.

Israel has been careful to stay out of the civil war, now in its fourth year, but the IDF occasionally has responded to several firing incidents that appeared to be aimed at Israel.

So what do you do when your terrorist neighbors, whether Assad, ISIS or Al Qaeda, are killing and beheading each other, but an occasional rocket just happens to fall in your back yard?

You duck.

The IDF says, “Be careful,” and it is hard to criticize the walk-on-eggs policy.

If Israeli soldiers start showing their guns and attack rebel or loyalist positions, Israel, in a single step, or shot if you prefer, could instantly turn the ISIS, Assad and Al Qaeda into allies with the ultimate common enemy, those terrible Zionists.

You know, those are the ones who are occupying territory that was mostly uninhabited except for a Druze city and Syrian army positions used to pound Israeli farmers along the Kinneret until the Six-Day War in 1967.

Now, the shooting has shifted to the Golan Heights, where farmers have the option of being careful while they work or are being even more careful by not working.

But the IDF is not likely the bill for apples that are not picked and for cattle that are not grazing in the pasture.

The farmers are suffering, but at least they have the satisfaction of knowing that with every day, there are a few less terrorists on the other side of the border.

If the farmers can be agile enough to duck quickly, and the IDF can restrain from firing back, there might be peace on the day that the last terrorist blows himself up in frustration because there is no one else left to kill, except, of course, for Israelis.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-stands-by-as-al-qaeda-offensive-threatens-golan-farmers/2014/09/14/

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