Raising Filipino farmers — in Israeli farms

‘In Israel, if you’re a farmer, you’re a businessman,’ said Ilan Fluss, Israel ambassador to the Philippines, on sending Filipino farmers to Israel to replicate the country’s agricultural success here.

Anthony Abena connects what he learned from Agrostudies, operating greenhouses to create a papaya nursery that has yielded thousands of seedlings commissioned by the government. | photograph courtesy of agrostudies

A bumper-crop class of Filipino farmers, and then some, are in Israel raising cows and tilling soil.

On a land of second chances, the pastures are rich and growers can afford a payroll.

Everywhere in the world, growing crops is an uncertain enterprise. For Filipino growers, it’s not just pests and the vagaries of the weather.

Farm-to-market roads are scarce. The need for equipment exacts heavily on labor-intensive harvest duties. Much of the yield ends up in manure pits for lack of storage facilities.

Israel is a world leader in automating growing crops and raising livestock.

Jessa Samonte turns mushrooms into a thriving business that continues to scale. The 2014 alum of the state-sponsored Agrostudies in Israel makes small-town tours to share the playbook.

And now they’re extending that expertise to Filipino farmers.

The idea is to narrow the Filipino farmers’ chances of failure by making extensive use of Israel’s experience in agriculture and introduce that expertise to Philippine farms.

Five-hundred interns every year will now learn the Israeli way of agriculture for 11 months.

“The Israeli approach to agriculture is very different. It is about the scientific approach in Israel. The farmers work very closely with the government, the research community and the private sector, which is developing new technologies and systems,” said Israeli ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss.

Five days a week, students sit in various classes with Israeli farmers, or walk though farms and agricultural companies, where Israel’s best practices disabuse them of hard work with little returns.

Among the innovations they will see: A remote-controlled irrigation system that doubles as fertilizer and considerably cuts visits to the fields. A smart drip system that goes directly to the roots to save water and emancipate planters from seasonal rains. A system that keeps tabs on precise growing conditions in indoor vegetable gardens.

Fluss is traveling the breadth and length of the Philippines to meet the graduates.

One of them has been able to scale up her mushroom enterprise.

An animal technician now maximizes the yield in his pig farm.

An intern who forayed into the business of seedlings, potted herbs, and vegetables has won a prestigious grant.

Landmark Israeli agriculture projects in the Philippines include the introduction of smart agriculture systems in Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, water management in Mindanao, and the proprietary smart-drip irrigation as an efficient alternative to traditional pivot sprinklers.

Private-sector joint ventures have also been forged by the Israel government, with Metro Pacific Investment Corp. benefiting from Israel’s tech-driven best practices in dairy production.

Read more Daily Tribune stories at: https://tribune.net.ph/

Follow us on social media
Facebook: @tribunephl
Youtube: TribuneNow
Twitter: @tribunephl
Instagram: @tribunephl
TikTok: @dailytribuneofficial