Climate Smart Israel – to Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee

DanDrought, Industry News Release, Water

by Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture

Secretary Ross is traveling through Israel this week with a California delegation interested in adaptation strategies for climate change and drought


The Sea of Galilee

The sense of history here leaves me in a state of awe.  The Sea of Galilee is also known as the Kineret. It is Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir and the country’s largest and most important source of drinking water.

We met with top officials of the plant breeding company Kaiima Ltd in Moshav Sharon which was listed in 2014 by MIT in its top-50 smartest companies. It is a very small company among giants like Amazon, Google and Tesla. It’s two founders have backgrounds in plant breeding and genetics, and they developed a non-GMO genetics platform to improve yields and characteristics for resiliency. The World Bank is an investor. It’s main focus is on the major crops in the world: wheat, soybeans, rice, corn, canola, tomatoes and peppers. Top Seeds is its subsidiary that specializes in vegetable seeds. The company’s plant breeding process can shave 2-3 years off the plant breeding cycle which can take up to ten years. In addition to improved productivity Top Seed is innovating to deliver better taste and longer shelf life. A member of our delegation, Hank Giclas of Western Growers Association, takes us on a quick tour.

We then traveled to Jerusalem – a sprawling, hilly city mixing the very modern with some of the oldest history we know. State Board chairman Craig McNamara, Josh Eddy, the board’s executive director, and I left our delegation for a meeting at the Knesset with the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Uri Ariel.

Minister Ariel and I agreed to establish a work group to develop a couple if areas for joint projects and collaboration. In addition to water and climate smart agriculture, he is interested in advancing aquaculture, the use of satellites and drones to improve agriculture, and agri-tourism.

We joined our delegation at a dinner hosted by the Milken Institute in preparation for today’s Innovation Lab visit. Delegation members were energized by their earlier discussion with the dynamic manager of Hagihon, the water delivery and wastewater entity for Jerusalem.