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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

Locusts Invade Israel but More of a Tourist Site than a Plague

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Small swarms of locusts have invaded Israel, and some of the pests were sighted as far north as the Golan Heights on Monday, but their small numbers will prevent them from creating any measurable damage, at least for the time being.

The timing of last week’s widespread locust attack in Egypt was perfect for recalling the eighth plague that struck ancient Egypt before the Exodus of the Jews, which will be celebrated in two weeks.

However, any moral messages to be learned from their appearance in Israel cannot be based on damage. Spraying has more or less prevented any danger to crops, although Agriculture Ministry officials warn that expected hot weather and winds from the south could create a danger that massive hordes of locusts could move into Israel and swoop down on farms for a pre-Passover feast.

The locusts are like isolated tourists and also are a tourist site for curious Israelis.

One hiker told the Jewish Press that while walking in the central Negev, south of Be’er Sheva, to enjoy strolling amid a multitude of flowers after heavy winter rains, he found a dead locust under a rock, providing a novel photograph.

Plague of Locusts Returns to Egypt

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

A return of the plague of locusts in southeast Egypt is on the radar of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), following recent heavy rainfall.

In case anyone forgot his Bible, the ancient plague of locusts followed the plague of hail, a “coincidence” that helps those who try to find natural reasons for God’s actions.

The country’s Ministry of Agriculture last month sprayed pesticides on 27,000 acres of land to chase away locusts, but the pests far outnumber the enemy spray.

Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported that huge swarms of locusts already have arrived in several areas, ready to feast on local crops. The numbers of locusts have increased, especially along the Red Sea coast between Egypt and Sudan.

The Egyptian Ahram website noted that eight years ago, Egypt suffered the most serious locust plague in recent history. More than one-third of the nation’s crops were damaged by the locusts, which gobble up anything that is green and make an horrendous noise.

The Muslim Brotherhood might want to note that after the hail and locusts, ancient Egypt was struck with the plague of darkness, which, figuratively speaking, already has distressed Egypt ever since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood if not long before.

The next plague in line is the death of the first-born. And Passover is right around the corner.

Polish AG Looking into Ritual Slaughter’s Constitutionality

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Poland’s attorney general has asked the country’s Constitutional Court to investigate the constitutionality of ritual slaughter.

Andrzej Seremet said that he believes the minister of agriculture, who allowed an exemption to Polish law to accommodate ritual slaughter, violated the constitution.

Under Polish law, animals must be stunned before slaughter; the only exception is ritual slaughter. Islamic and Jewish law require that animals be conscious at the time of slaughter.

The Polish Ministry of Agriculture authorized the use of ritual slaughter several years ago, but animal rights activists say that a Polish animal protection law does not allow it. Earlier this month, activists who have been protesting ritual slaughter for the last several weeks asked the country’s prosecutor to investigate whether the ministry is violating the law by allowing ritual slaughter.

Animal rights activists believe that allowing ritual slaughter in Poland is illegal because it is not regulated by government act but by the authorization of the minister of agriculture.

The chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, told JTA that he has trust in the Polish legal system.

“We are convinced that the Constitutional Court shall consider the matter also in the context of the freedom of religion, particularly the right to maintain customs and traditions of national minorities,” Schudrich said. “As a rabbi I must say that shechitah – Jewish ritual slaughter – is executed with the greatest care about the animals.”

Earlier this month, the Dutch government signed a deal with Jewish and Muslim leaders to allow ritual slaughter. A bill that had passed the Dutch parliament’s House would have forbidden it.

Israeli Scientist Wins World Food Prize for Drip Irrigation

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

An 81 year old Israeli scientist whose revolutionary irrigation methods have saved and improved the lives of millions of people throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America, has received the prestigious World Food Prize, according to an announcement made by the foundation on Tuesday.

Daniel Hillel, Los Angeles native and father of Israel’s famous drip micro-irrigation method to conserve water while nourishing growing fruits and vegetables in the world’s most arid climates, was named the winner of this year’s $250,000 prize in a ceremony in Washington.  US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the key note speech.  Hillel will be celebrated in an official ceremony at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa on October 18.

World Food Prize Foundation President Kenneth Quinn praised Hillel, not just for his system which carries water through narrow plastic tubing to drip sparingly above the roots of the growing plants, but for his contribution to bridging divides between diverse peoples.  Over  the past half century, Hillel has taken his agricultural know-how to over 30 countries around the world, including Jordan and Egypt.  Hillel has also shared his knowledge with leaders in Palestinian agriculture.  Quinn noted that several letters of support for Hillel came from institutions in Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

“He’s able to reach across the intercultural gap with this agricultural achievement in order to address that problem that they have in common about how to lift people out of poverty and reduce hunger by working together,” Quinn told the Associated Press. “In an area of the world and in lands where the divides — whether they be ethnic, political, religious, or diplomatic — seem so great, here is a man who by devoting his life to this peaceful development has sought to bridge those gaps.”

Hillel was born in Los Angeles, but moved in 1931 at the age of 1 to Palestine after his father died.

At age 9, Hillel was sent to live on a kibbutz, where he learned about agriculture and preserving resources in the difficult pre-state period.

Hillel returned to the United States for high school and university, and came back to Israel in 1951, at which time he joined the Ministry of Agriculture, mapping the new country’s soil and water resources. In 1952, Hillel joined a group of pioneers who developed a viable agricultural community in the Negev – the new community of Sde Boker – by fashioning small holes in cheap, small plastic piping readily available after World War II, and running water and fertilizer through them directly to plants.  The town so impressed Israel’s Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, that he made it his home.

The World Food Prize, honoring people engaged in fighting world hunger, was created by Iowa native Norman Borlaug, the winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing hybrid crops in order to increase food production in emerging nations.  He died in 2009.

Tomato Shortage Leads to Price Surge in Israel

Monday, May 7th, 2012

A tomato shortage has led to a surge in prices for the juicy Israeli staples, with prices estimated to reach NIS 16 per kilo on Monday ($1.90/lb).  Tomatoes are usually an inexpensive commodity, available at 45 – 75 cents a pound.

The shortage is a result of the conclusion of a growing season.  In a month, ripe tomatoes are estimated to be available again, bringing the price back down, according to the Vegetable Growers Association, cited by Globes online business news.

Heavy Weekend Rains Raise Kinneret Water Level by Half a Foot

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The Kinneret, Israel’s Sea of Galilee, has long been a steady source of concern for locals, with the need for water for drinking and agriculture scoring the highest points for anxiety, followed closely by tourism.

The lowest level was reached in 2001, at 214.87 meters (704.95 feet) below sea level. At that point the ecological damage to the beautiful lake was considered critical, as the water receded to as much as a thousand feet from where the beaches used to be.

Happily, the current rainy winter has elevated the Kinneret’s water level by 2.21 meters (7.25 feet), compared with that driest of seasons, 11 years ago. Altogether, this rainy season has contributed 1.4 meters (4.59 feet) to the water level, putting it at 212.66 meters (697.70 feet) below sea level.

This weekend alone brought up the lake’s level by 19 cm, or a little over half a foot.

The Kinneret needs to rise 3.86 meters (12.66 feet) to reach its optimal water level, which experts suggest could possibly happen after the end of the rainy season. They point out that record snow on the mountains north of the lake will result in record thawing come spring.

Israeli Innovations: Helping the High-Tech and the Under-Privileged

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

A slew of new Israeli innovations are set to make life more convenient – and more viable – all over the world.

Israeli company Lumus has created a set of translucent television glasses which allow the wearer to see high-quality, full-color images such as e-mail, images, and text documents while walking or performing other tasks.

According to a report in Britain’s Daily Mail, the new PD-18-2 capitalizes on Lumus’s special cutting-edge visual technology called Light-guide Optical Element (LOE), which is already in use in professional and military products for soldiers, surgeons and pilots, projecting images into the eye from a micro-display.

Helping the multi-tasker keep up with his various to-dos is the goal of Any.DO, an Israeli social to-do app voted best Android application of 2011 by the Techcrunch blog, Lightbox, and Amazon MP3.

Any.DO has the basic features of a calendar, while also allowing users to add tasks through auto-complete and voice commands, manage them through gestures such as swiping and dragging-and-dropping, and sync with Google tasks, according to Israel innovations website NoCamels.

Israeli technology is also coming to the aid of those who do not yet enjoy the luxury of high-tech gadgets.  Agro-biotech company Rosetta Green, based in Rehovot, has genetically modified plants to grow under ocean water irrigation and to withstand long and severe droughts.  According to No Camels, the company hopes to produce plants which will stand up to harsh climates while maintaining bountiful yields by modifying short RNA molecules associated with a plant’s genetic ability to withstand drought or salty water.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-innovations-helping-the-high-tech-and-the-under-privileged/2012/01/19/

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