Start Asia The Near East discovers the key to global food

The Near East discovers the key to global food

Map of world made from different kinds of spices on wooden background

This trend is really scary: as the world’s population grows strong year after year, the desert areas of the earth continue to expand. This not only retreats the intact nature, but also the fertile farmland. In the Middle East, however, the desert is thriving, thanks to innovative inventions that would also have beneficial effects in other parts of the world.

Ben Gurion: „Thinking about how the desert can turn green“
From a climate point of view, Israel is something of a diminutive image of the earth: while the north boasts fertile soil and enough rain, an inhospitable desert stretches to the south. The population increase in the country is enormous: At the moment, about 9 million people live in the state, which is about the size of the state of Hessen. By 2050 it will probably be 15 million. By comparison, Hesse currently has 6 million inhabitants – and there is no desert in sight. The food issue is thus very far ahead in Israel. In the 1940s, Prime Minister Ben Gurion encouraged settlers in the south of the country not to move to the fertile North, but to „think about how the desert can turn green.“ Shortly thereafter, there was the first 40 km long water pipeline – but that was only the beginning.

In Israel, 90 percent of the wastewater is recycled
Seawater desalination is too expensive for agriculture, groundwater is too valuable in the long term. So, in the former desert areas of Israel, most of the time you are working on treated dirty water. For the fields in the north, this wet would simply be rich in potassium and phosphorus, in the south it is just right. Already about 50% of Jerusalem’s sewage is filtered out and cleared up, then it flows via various pipes and channels to where it is urgently needed. Wastewater utilization in Israel has advanced as far as in any other country on earth. In total, about 90 percent of the wastewater is returned to the man-made water cycle. The Spaniards manage only 20 percent, the Americans to 1 percent.

Frugal snack cucumbers from the Jordanian desert
In Kibbuz Hatzerim the so-called droplet hose was developed, manufacturer is the Israeli company Netafim. The tube lasts up to 30 years and ensures that every planting that grows in the desert receives enough water. Africa’s small farmers also benefit from this system, Netafim produces specially adapted products for them. After about two years, the costs paid back to the farmers, because the crops rise explosively. For example, 4 tons of tomatoes grow on 1000 square meters without irrigation, but 20 tons with droplet tubes. And looking over the Israeli border towards Jordan, we can see what is still part of a successful agriculture in the desert: Here grow in the context of the „Sahara Forest Project“ very frugal cucumbers, only with the help of seawater and solar power. The cucumbers come from the Netherlands, they are harvested with 9 centimeters and are not in competition with the huge free-range cucumbers that come from the north of the country.

These examples show us that the desert does not have to win the race. If people are smart, they will win!