It is so amazing that a desert country like Israel has one of the best and most highly developed agriculture industries and productivity in the world. Israel is a major exporter of fresh produce and a world-leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that the geography of Israel is not naturally conducive to agriculture.
More than half of the land area is desert, and the climate and lack of water resources do not favour farming. This contrasts with Uganda’s agriculture sector because Uganda has one of the best climate in the world. It is the “pearl of Africa” after all, surrounded by fresh water bodies like rivers, stream and lakes.
Israel is a world leader in agricultural research and development, which has led to dramatic increases in the quantity and quality of the country's crops. The drive to increase yields and crop quality has led to the development of new seed and plant varieties, as well as to innovations such as a soil conditioner substance (vermiculite) which, when mixed with local soils, boosts crop yields, and drip irrigation.
Farm surpluses have been almost eradicated from the country, with farms having production and water quotas for each crop, which have stabilised prices. Production quotas apply to milk, eggs, poultry and potatoes.
Israel's government also encourages a reduction in agricultural costs by trying to encourage specialised farming, and halting of production of crops for which no sufficiently profitable markets exist. The Ministry of Agriculture oversees the country's agricultural sector, including maintenance of standards of plant and animal health, agricultural planning, research and marketing.
The government has also been able to supply irrigation water to each and every farm all over Israel. Some water is just recycled.
The meteorological department of Israel has been able to give accurate weather forecast to the farmers. This has saved farmers from losses which could have been caused by unpredicted climatic changes.
Cooperative bodies; high productivity has been increased by farmer producing communally. Farmers are organised in what is called Kibbutz and Moshav. The cooperative societies have helped the Jewish farmers to search for market all over the world, standardisation of farmers’ produce and grading. Some farmers also get agriculture loans from these cooperative organisations.
Agriculture zoning: through agriculture ministry with its research department they have carried out research on soil types and climatic types all over Israel. This has helped to grow crops which a tolerable to different climatic condition unlike Ugandan farmers who just grow crop wherever they want hence; low yield and quality.
Pruning, fruit thinning, girdling are one of the agronomic practices with scientific background which have enabled farmers in Israel to increase productivity both in quality and quality. However, many farmers in Uganda have not taken such practices important.
Irrigation; with less water resources, they have adopted drip irrigation system in order to provide water to their crops. "SAVE ANY DROP OF WATER" is the slogan for Israel government. No other advancement has been quite as significant as irrigation in Israel because it contributes to remarkable crop growth making it capable to reap crops three times a year instead of just once even on infertile soils.
The drip irrigation system basically provides water to the crop not the soil. They have gone ahead to invent a new irrigation called family drip system (FDN). This is affordable to every farmer. It is also a great innovation for Ugandan more especially in long dry season.
The soils: Innovations such as a soil conditioner substance (vermiculite) which, when mixed with local soils, boosts crop yields. Vermi-compost has been also made to improve on the soil nutrient capacity, improve on the structure and texture of soil because most of soils are sandy and silt type.
Soils are always ploughed then covered with polythene sheets throughout the summer. This action creates a very hot condition with in the soils such that any present pathogens are fully eradicated to set the soils safe for agriculture.
Pests are mainly managed by biological pest control strategy (mostly organic strategies are used to improve soil nutrients, pathogens, pest and disease control, that’s why Israel sells most of its produce to Europe because it meets international standards.
The grafting is performed in citrus, egg plant, tomatoes among other crops within Israel. This has helped the fighting of soil borne related attacks to crops. Varieties that are resistant to the pathogens in the soils are grafted to the varieties that have better yielding. With innovation, many Israeli farmers have continued to have good quality produce from their farms leading to high pay at the market.
Lessons for Ugandan
The government of Uganda should not just suck from farmers but otherwise devise measures to regulate, support and improve the agriculture, that is when productivity of agriculture shall improve.
Ugandan farmers lose their products due to lack of market. It is the responsibility of the government to look for market for farmers’ produce. This should be through restoring cooperative societies, marketing board and granaries/cold rooms where farmers can store their produce to meet market demands.
Nowhere in the developed world do farms only depend on rain fed agriculture, it is the responsibility of the government to supply/extend water to the farmers such that agriculture productivity is carried out throughout the year, all farmers should be connected to the national water supply system.
Government should inject more money in scientific research, because all countries with developed agriculture sector depend on better and improved scientific research. Government should ensure that that basic research flows down to the peasant farmers through agriculture extension.
The ministries of agriculture and education should review the academic curriculum. Most of the agricultural information given to agricultural students is outdated. It does not improve productivity. The world has moved far from that.
Farmers should be able to cope up with the scientific innovations extended to them as regards organic pesticide making, organic fertiliser making, and proper agronomic practices by the extension workers.
Farmers should organise themselves into groups in order to produce much to meet the market demand.
Israel Yawe is an agriculture intern based in Isreal.