The State of Israel covers an area of approximately 20,000 Km but only
20% of it is arable land.
60% of Israel is desert and just 10% of the population lives there.
The remaining 40% of the country is semi-arid land. It is densely
populated, and holds 90% of the population
Israel's population has a relatively high standard of living with an annual
GNP of nearly US$ 18,000 per capita.
The society is mostly urban, with some 92% of the population living in
cities. Although 8% of the population live in rural areas, only 2.7% of the
total national work force is engaged in agricultural production.
Most of Israel's agriculture is irrigated, although water is the most limiting
factor. Agricultural production in the desert takes advantage of some
unique conditions: abundance of land, high temperatures and intensive
The main water source is either saline water or recycled sewage water.
The crops are winter vegetables and flowers in greenhouses, dates,
grapes and olives irrigated with saline water.
Also dairy cattle are raised under reduced heat stress.
The climate in the north of Israel is different which enables a great
variety of crops to be grown: citrus, avocado, mango, grapes, apples,
peaches, banana, dates, wheat, corn, cotton, peanuts, potato,
vegetables, flowers, flower bulbs, etc.
Animal husbandry consists mostly of dairy cattle, poultry and fish
Farming in Israel is highly sophisticated, capital intensive, and based on
a high level of technology. One third of the agricultural production is for
export, while two third of the production is for the local market.
Agricultural production in Israel is market oriented and geared mostly to
supply the demand of the urban population.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, among the
various professional departments of the newly established, Ministry of
Agriculture began providing, systematically organized extension to all
In parallel, the Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency greatly
strengthened its pre-statehood extension department into a full-blown
extension service that provided extension to the tens of thousands of new
immigrants who were settled in new agricultural villages.
They needed very basic type of extension services: how to invest, seed,
cultivate, and how to feed and milk a cow.
This parallel system recruited from established villages hundreds of young
farmers who would serve as village level instructors, living in the village
among their farmers.
Each village of 60-100 farm families would receive three of these para-
Israel has a long history of agricultural extension. It began in fact
with the establishment in the 1880s of the first modern agricultural
villages, and was provided by agronomists of the first agricultural
school (established in 1870) and of thesettlement bodies.
At the start of the 20th Century, researchers of newly established
research farms (later developed into stations) also provided
At the termination of the Ottoman Empire control and the taking over
by Britain, the Jewish Agency Settlement Department established an
extension unit that operated from the research stations.
In parallel, the British Mandate Government set up a Ministry with
professional departments that among their responsibilities, was the
provision of extension.
a) Social -- to teach how to organize and manage a democratic village
cooperative and run it both socially and economically;
b) Home economics and management, working with the women of the
c) Agricultural - a generalist, to teach and follow very closely all the
agricultural operations of each farmer.
The latter received professional backing from regionally based Subject
Matter Specialists of the Agency, mostly ex-Kibbutz branch managers and
agricultural high school graduates.
In 1960 the specialists of these two systems were united under one
overall umbrella to form the "Unified Extension Authority" (UEA), with 12
•In 1965 the Ministry of Agriculture adopted the Agency Subject Matter
Specialists and formed one national service -- "The Extension and
Professional Service" the IES of today.
•This organizational effort included the Soil and Irrigation Field Service with
its 14 laboratories. It was also a large unit established to enhance water use
•The model for IES was based on the USDA Extension service with an input of
experience from the Netherlands providing a professional, specialized service
to reach all the farmers through regional centers.
• A variety of extension methods and communication media were developed
with a strong emphasis on personal on-farm visits.
•Strong ties with research were established from the start including
involvement of extension specialists in R&D.
•Over time farmers, through their local, regional and national organizations
were associated as part time and eventually full time partners in planning of
Extension steered by a National Extension Assembly, chaired by the Minister
•Farmer representatives formed the majority in the council.
The IES is a semi independent unit within the Israeli Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development. The short and long term IES
goals are derived from national agricultural and rural policies.
The 2009-2010 IES goals are focused on
continued replacement of labor with capital,
efficient use of water,
adoption of innovative best practices to peripheral areas,
promoting the export of the agricultural sector's products,
improving product quality and
All this within improvement of internal IES efficiency
The basic IES organizational structure concurs with the Ministry
framework of regional offices supported by the various Ministry
departments at the Beit Dagan headquarters located near Tel Aviv.
Beit Dagan also hosts the headquarters of the national Agricultural
Regardless governmental funding constraints and political dictates
resulted in drastic staff reductions – from 1980 the ARO was
reduced from 1800 to 800 individuals and IES from 640 to about 150 (2008).
The inevitable need to update equipment, facilities and capabilities
improved this situation forcing both the ARO and the IES to seek
additional sources of funding, partnership and commercialization.
Partners included growers' associations, production and marketing
boards, agricultural committees, regional councils, regional enterprises,
packing houses, food processing industries, seed companies, fertilizer
and chemical producers and agencies, irrigation equipment industries,
machinery firms, and more – in Israel and abroad
The IES has a long and successful record of promoting technological
innovation in agriculture, in many cases being the facilitator of technology
transfer from research to the field and providing feed back to research.
During its short history, agriculture in Israel has gone through different
stages: from improved productivity in traditional agriculture, to
diversified agriculture, to (at present) specialized agriculture geared
towards a market for local consumption and export.
Throughout this period, Israel's agriculture has been characterized most
by rapid socioeconomic and technological adaptation.
This adaptation can be attributed to
• the introduction and integration of knowledge,
• modern technology,
• government support,
• credit and extension services,
• a highly skilled workforce,
• the use of farmers' experience, and most important,
• the sustainable management of natural resources.
Agricultural production in Israel - an industrial country - accounts for only
about 3 per cent of GNP.
The agricultural workforce in Israel is small: only 2.5 per cent of the
population is engaged in agriculture, compared with 20 per cent some 25
years ago. The professional level of farmers is high, and they invest in
high-level agricultural inputs and the use of advanced technologies.
Extension In ISRAEL
The agency responsible for the agril extension service is the “Joint
centre for Agril extension” run jointly by the govt (ministry of Agril)
and the settlement Dept of the Jewish Agency.
The representative of govt is the HEAD of the Ext service.
The main sections of the Centre are:
A. Training and guidance section in new settlements
B. Publications division
C. Audio visual aids
D. Home Economics and
E. Auxiliary farms
Training and guidance section in new settlements
After independence in 1948, there was much immigration and the
agril graduates were very less in number. Govt met the situation in the
1. By engaging volunteer farmers to act as instructors in the new
villages: the young people with their families from well settled villages
were shifted to new villages and worked as instructors.
Training of new instructors:
Arrangements were made at the Rupin Agril college in which
departmental instructors and even new persons, were trained to act
as instructors in the new settlements.
With the cooperation of U.S.O.M (United States Operation Mission), one
training centre for training farm managers and branch managers at
Ibim farm has been started.
Title of the course: Farm management (3days theory and 3days practical
on six subjects) four months . Techniques of economic production in
crops like vegetables, industrial crops, orange groves and irrigation,
In service training of Instructors: Every instructor undergoes this
training in order to refresh knowledge and to get more basic
knowledge also. It is of 14-18 days duration. Some days for training
and others for demonstration work.
Courses in writing: Lectures are prepared and sent to the instructors.
The instructors are given question papers to be answered with the
help of the postal lectures. There is a library for this purpose at the
agril research institute, Rehovot. 75% of the expenditure incurred on
the course is repaid by the Govt.
Four types of publications :
• Leaflets for the new settlers. Who do not know anything about
agriculture. It is short, concise and in simple Hebrew language with
coloured pictures. These are on corn, peas, manures, onion, goats,
horse, tobacco, peanuts, potato, pastures etc.,
•Bulletins for the old settlers are sort of books giving more detailed
•Advanced publications like ”Farming Instructors News sheet” : It is a
monthly publication and its intention is to help the village instructor
in his day to day work as well as seasonal news.
Other advanced publications are studies with more depth on the
subject and with a research background.
Audio-Visual Aids Section:
The U.S.O.M supplied equipment for preparing the recorded talks and
coloured slides. They have special visual cars and with the cooperation
of the General Information Bureau of Israel, they go the villages. The
slides and talks cover topics like preparation of compost, grading of
vegetables etc., Different topics based on the region will be prepared.
Evening discussions with farmers
Demonstration plots in the villages
Organising village exhibitions
Contests and Awards of prizes
Home Economics section
This section deals with the training of women in the areas of home,
family, child, cooking etc., There is one advisory Council consisting of
Representatives from the Ministry of Agril, the Jewish Agency, the
National organisations of the different types of settlements. The council
decides the programme for the villages. It has extension workers in
home Economics who are professionals.
For training the instructors, in-service courses and study days are
arranged where training is given in utilising the surplus vegetables
by making tomato sauce, juice and other fruits preservation. After
training, the instructors demonstrate it in the villages where they work.
Recorded lectures, slides and charts showing the use of kitchen
gardening, care of babies etc., are arranged.
Auxiliary farms: Under this non-agriculturists or persons having some
area in their compound are persuaded to grow vegetables and fruits,
maintain poultry etc.,
1.National Education: As many of the immigrants who come to Israel are
not agriculturists hence in order to create a contact between these
families and soil, this system was introduced.
2. Economic: It promotes livelihood, partial employment, and ensures a
varied supply of fresh agricultural produce in all seasons, and thus
reduces the household expenses on these items. If there is a surplus, the
family can sell it.
3.Health: It makes the urban workers, the artisans, factory workers or any
indoor workers, etc., to come out into the fresh air and enables them to
exercise for at least one hour a day.
Aesthetic look: Promotes an attractive appearance to the landscape with flowers,
Training for agricultural settlement: It has been experienced that many
immigrants who formerly did not like to accept agriculture as their occupation
and had no interest in in agril, after receiving training by working in their
auxiliary farms, resolved to settle in villages as farmers.
Planning of Auxiliary farms: Under this the area is one-third to half acre,
Depending on the size of the family, health of the family and their inclination
Towards the work. It should be near the house and protected from stray
cattle and theft.Water facility should be available. Any crop can be taken up.
The govt provides loans IL125 to IL425 as per the size of the farm.
To provide agril ext service instructors are employed. It was found that
women ext advisors are more successful, hence more women are employed
The programme of agril schools includes a special subject
“Instruction on Auxiliary Farms.” All the students in the elementary schools
are given training in agril work, they work in their farm during spare time.
It has been noticed that the majority of the auxiliary farms are being run by boys
of 10to14 years of age.
The duty of the extension service is to help farmers advance through
the introduction of more knowledge and better agro-technologies.
Extension support is provided by the government via the Ministry of
Agriculture and by the private sector through companies selling
pesticides, fertilizers, machinery and auxiliary tools.
Farming Branch Technical Committees (FBTCs) are headed by an
Extension Officer, within the framework of the Ministry, and integrate
all aspects of research, extension and other technical activities.
Agricultural and commercial banks transfer money to farmers in the
form of credits, loans or grants for development or working capital in
the form of advance payments and so on.
In addition, production and marketing boards provide farmers with
advance credits for cultivating export crops on the basis of binding
A government company covers export risks such as a price collapse on
The main organization in charge of all export activities in Israel is
AGREXO. It was set up jointly by the government and the production
and marketing boards, and operates on a fully commercial basis for
both producers and potential buyers.
It takes care of all the logistical requirements of its export activities:
planning, providing guidelines for quality, credit allocations, sales,
marketing, and organizational and financial management.
The Insurance Fund for Natural Damages belongs jointly to the
government and the farmers, and guarantees the reimbursement of
lost inputs in the case of damage caused by natural disasters.
The national and regional farmers' organization represents farmers in
the Agricultural Branch Committee, the production and marketing
boards, AGREXO, and so on.
Its task is
• to encourage the publication of professional material,
• to maintain contacts with similar foreign organizations, and
• to promote direct research and extension in accordance with
Since Israel attained its independence in 1948, the total area under
cultivation has increased from 1,65,000 ha. to some 4,20,000 ha., and
the number of agricultural communities has grown from 400 to 900
(including 136 Arab villages).
During the same period, agricultural production has grown sevenfold,
keeping ahead of the population, which grew by a factor of six.
Israel's varied climatic, topographical and soil conditions made it
possible to grow a wide range of agricultural produce.
The success of the country's agriculture stems from the determination
and resourcefulness of farmers and scientists who have dedicated
themselves to developing a flourishing agriculture in a country which is
more than half desert, thus demonstrating that the real value of land is a
function of how it is used.
The fact that agricultural production continued to grow despite severe
water and land limitations was no accident. It was the result of a unique
Israeli phenomenon: the close and ongoing cooperation between
researchers, extension workers, farmers and agriculture-related services
Continuous, application-oriented research and development (R&D) has
been carried out in the country since the beginning of the last century.
The agricultural sector today is based almost entirely on science-linked
technology, with government agencies, academic institutions, industry
and cooperative bodies working together to seek solutions and meet
The Ministry of Agriculture's research body, the
Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), accounts for nearly 75 percent
of all nationwide agricultural research. As such, it is the primary driving
force behind Israel's internationally-acclaimed agricultural achievements.
The ARO incorporates seven institutes on its main campus, and four off-
campus experimental stations. Numerous ARO developments,
particularly in irrigation, arid zone agriculture and unique varieties of
fruits, vegetables and ornamentals have been commercialized in Israel
Israel's agricultural R&D has developed science-based technologies,
which have dramatically enhanced the quantity and quality of the
The key to this success lies in the two-way flow of information between
researchers and farmers. Through a network of extension services (and
active farmers' involvement in all R&D stages), problems in the field are
brought directly to the researcher for solutions, and scientific results
are quickly transmitted to the field for trial adaptation and
The drive to achieve maximum yields and crop quality has led to
• new plant varieties,
• to breeding of improved animal species and
• to a wide range of innovations in irrigation, machinery, automation,
chemicals, cultivation and harvesting.
The telecommunications revolution of the late 1990s also made its mark
on farming methods in some sectors, with more and more farmers
employing mobile phones, the Internet and computer-guided farm
supervision as basic working and marketing tools.
Adoption of ICT for Extension is a unique and illuminating example.
The Israeli Extension Service's (IES) strategic decision to adopt Information
and Communication Technologies (ICT) significantly enhanced Extension's
capabilities and scope of activities.
ICT empowered extension's ability
• to develop, introduce and adopt innovative agricultural technologies and
• collaborate with research and international partners.
Adoption of ICT as one instance of technological innovation dramatically
improved the transfer and management of information, production chain
efficiencies and integration within and with the agricultural sector.
These are critical Israeli Extension success factors enabling Research,
Services and Farmers ability to sustain a profitable, thriving agriculture
sector. This success is a major contribution to rural viability and a model for
adoption of technological innovation.