Why Agritech Is Israel's Next Big Import

(OneZero) Adam Popescu - The train ride from Jaffa to Jerusalem passes through fields of grapes, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and bananas. In many ways, these fields are a miracle. As the Dead Sea evaporates and the Jordan River dwindles, Israel has been forced to get creative around water efficiency. More than half of Israel's usable water is man-made from desalinated seawater, and 86% of its wastewater is treated and reused. Israel has survived as a modern nation because the country created a revolutionary irrigation system in the 1960s that would become the world standard for efficient and high-tech agriculture. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the concept of "drip" irrigation exemplifies that maxim. Israel's agritech sector now comprises 500 companies, many of them new, which have raised over $170 million in funding since 2017 -- more than competitors in far larger farming nations like Brazil and Australia. Agriculture and food tech startups received over $10 billion in investments last year globally, up 29% from 2016, and a significant proportion is going to Israel. This month, Taranis - a four-year-old Tel Aviv startup whose drones monitor fields and diagnose nutrient problems, plant disease, and insect infestations in farms in the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and Australia - closed a $20 million investment round. In January, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. signed an agreement to supply drones to Brazil's Santos Lab as a way to improve large scale precision agriculture. The first foray into the agriculture market for the Israeli company is estimated to be a more than $100 million deal. Last October, China's vice president Wang Qishan toured Israeli agri-parks, which have been popping up across China, as well as Ethiopia, India, Greece, and Panama after similar state visits. In late 2017, China signed a $300 million "'clean tech" deal to import and white-label Israeli agricultural tech.

2019-05-31 00:00:00

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