Israel: Arava growers host desert wares

Countries More News Top Stories
Israel: Arava growers host desert wares

Weird and wonderful fruit and vegetables grown in the desert landscape of eastern Israel were among a mass of fresh produce exhibited at the country's agricultural expo DeserTech last week. At, we take a look at the country's 23rd annual trade fair which is growing year on year, bringing together a mass of people celebrating the rich crops of the Arava region.

Thousands of growers, industry professionals and farming families all joined together in one place for a two-day bonanza showcasing the varied produce which grows in the desert environment of Israel. Spinach the size of palm tree leaves, polka dot tomatoes and watermelons in the shape of cucumbers were just some of the rare products presented this year. Flickr - Arava sq - Chadica

More than two decades after DeserTech first started, this year’s exhibition was held on Jan. 15-16 Arava R&D Yair Station in association with the Interuniversity in Eilat.

Although this entire region - covering a long valley between the Dead Sea and Eilat - is largely made up of desert, most of its residents are farmers growing a variety of fresh produce, the majority of which is exported to Europe, the U.S and Russia, making up around 60% of Israel's total fresh produce export volume.

"The State of Israel is one of the world’s leading pioneers in today’s agro-technology industry. The Arava agriculture has become a symbol of Israel’s agricultural achievements as a global leader in desert agriculture. The Arava Valley is considered the 'global university for desert agriculture'," say DeserTech organizers.

A combination of saline soil, a general lack of water and the blazing sun means harsh growing conditions for Arava farmers, but this also adds a certain uniqueness to their crops. The sunny, arid climate also means the area has very few pests.

"Arava farmers take what nature has given them and with the hard work and creative solutions, have created a flourishing farming community.

"Today, about 800 families that live in seven communities are involved in a variety of farming pursuits. Around 40,000 dunhams (4,000ha) of cultivated desert land produce 150,000 tons of vegetables; mainly tomatoes and peppers.

"Arava farmers host Desertech celebrating Israeli agriculture. This is an important event for Arava residents celebrating their achievements in a festive atmosphere attracting thousands of visitors from around the country."

Hundreds of Israeli developments in agro-technology – including greenhouses, irrigation, research & development, and water management, were presented at this week's expo, which for the first time was opened up to the international agriculture community.

Israeli President Shimon Peres was also a special guest at the expo, where he told farmers: "Agriculture in the Arava is the most optimistic element in Israel. The farmers of the region have managed to beat the forces of nature by making the desert bloom each day. By doing so you have created the best agricultural systems in the world, and for that I am proud of you all."

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Chadica

Subscribe to our newsletter