Israel is still reeling from a six-day heatwave that scorched the country with temperatures reaching 40oC (104oFahrenheit) in most parts of the country. The Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) noted on May 25, 2020, that although absolute temperature records were not broken, the hot weather was record-breaking for its intensity and length.
The agricultural damage caused by the current heavy heatwave in Israel is expected to amount to tens of millions of shekels, a spokesperson for the KANAT Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture said. Initial assessments predict damage of over NIS 30 million but it is still too early to determine the extent of the final damage to crops.
The warm weather in the latter days of Pesach made the rains of the first days a distant memory in the minds of many Israelis, who could even forget the cold and rainy weather that preceded it. Not so for the farmers. They will be remembering them, as well as dealing with their fallout, for many months to come.
Sharon Fruit is arriving on the European market. “The first arrival was in week 4, and the last will be in week 7”, says Lior Gal from Galilee Export. “It is a very short season with much lower volumes than usual.” These lower volumes are due to the heat wave experienced in Israel during the Sharon fruit’s flowering season. “Many of the blossoms fell off”, Lior says. He said, “In a normal year we do about 1 500 tons, just for export”, he says. “So we have about 30% less.”
Common Smut, Tip Blight, Downy Mildew, and Phytophthora root rot. If you were an onion, maize, tomato or bell pepper farmer, you’d be alarmed as these are the names of just some of the more common diseases and deficiencies that can affect these agricultural crops. Saillog, a Tel Aviv-based agriculture tech startup founded just last year, has come up with an innovative way to help farmers stay ahead and devise a containment and management strategy.
About 1,000 farmers in Israel, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and Thailand are reporting up to 40 percent reduced use of pesticides and improved fieldworker efficiency due to a crowdsourcing platform called AgriTask. Developed by Israeli startup ScanTask in 2008, AgriTask translates data into simple work protocols for farmers of vegetables, field crops, fruit and ornamental trees, grapes, and greenhouse flowers, and helps them comply with safety and export regulations.
Copia Agro & Food, a two-year-old fund that invests in agricultural and food technologies developed by Israeli research institutes, said it is raising $50 million to expand its investments in Israel to address global challenges like climate change and food shortage. The private fund, co-managed by Ohad Zuckerman, former CEO of Zeraim Gedera, and Eyal Cohen, cooperates with Israeli and international agro/food tech industry partners to create technologies and products aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of the food chain and decrease the adverse effects of agriculture on the environment.
In what is becoming a worldwide trend in agriculture, the process of apple picking is set to be revolutionized by the invention of an autonomous robot that can replace the need for manpower and improve harvest results. The developers of the robot have been working on it for nearly two years and have registered it as a global patent. While it is still under development, the final robot will have 12 arms, 6 on each side, and will be able to pick hundreds of tons of fruit per day. A major advantage of automating the harvest process is that the robot could operate continuously with minimal supervision and work under various weather conditions.
The damage to farmers across Israel due to the stormy conditions and frost from last week is upwards of 14 million shekels (just over $3.5 million). The number was reported by Kanat, the Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture. Since Thursday, the insurance fund has received over 700 phone calls from farmers regarding damage to their property or crops that was caused by the storm. The majority of the damage was caused by frost that occurred in various parts of Israel, mainly in the south. According to Kanat, frost is the greatest threat to farmers, and without a government instituted insurance plan many farmers would go bankrupt in situations like this.
Last weekend, Israel was struck by a sudden cold spell which brought frost conditions to several parts of the country, causing serious damages to fruit and vegetable crops. The lost production could be worth up to 15 million shekels (3.55 million Euro), as estimated by KANAT, the national insurance fund for weather damages in agriculture, which received upwards of 200 reports of damages in just two days. Most of the damage has been registered in the Negev, especially to potato crops, and losses to producers in the region are estimated at about NIS 10 million (2.37 million Euro).
A severe storm system hit Israel last week, causing extensive damages to a number of fresh produce industries. The storm started early in the week with strong rains and developed to feature intense winds and local hail events. The brunt of the storm was felt in the northern and central regions of the country. According to early reports, more than 300 separate agricultural operations were damaged by the storm; roughly half of those were fresh vegetables operations such as cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and eggplant.
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