We initiated two task forces – one from the Azerbaijani government and one from the Israeli government in order to build a strategic plan for both countries to promote the ties in agriculture, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel Oded Forer said in an exclusive interview with Trend, as he visited Azerbaijan.
“Israel has a lot of knowledge in agritech and making agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions. Azerbaijan wants to develop agriculture in many regions, to make advanced agriculture with a lot of technology. Together we can collaborate to help Azerbaijan build much stronger agriculture and of course, to deepen the ties between the two countries.
We are already providing modern technologies to Azerbaijan. Israeli companies are active in Azerbaijan both in technology, agriculture. Some farmers here in Azerbaijan use Israeli technology. Of course, when we’re talking about building a strategic plan, it is about entering of more companies, of more knowledge, more technology into agriculture in Azerbaijan. At the agricultural exhibitions held at Baku EXPO Center everyone, including farmers saw what kind of technology there is now in agriculture. You can increase the crop that you can get from any acre of land. We can work on the same piece of land, but get more fruits and vegetables. Of course, if you have larger lands, you need to build it efficiently, you will have efficient and competitive agriculture in those areas. This will help Azerbaijan to become an agricultural producer that can use agricultural products not only for itself, but export more,” said the minister.
As for the possibility of wheat exports from Azerbaijan to Israel, Forer noted that it is going to take a few years, because the first goal that Azerbaijan set is to produce whole wheat for domestic needs.
“This is an important goal, given the fact that now everybody is concerned about food security for their own country. Azerbaijan is a large country and you have enough place to cultivate wheat that you need, of course, with the knowledge that we have about the kinds of wheat for the kinds of soil and how to grow more wheat. I am sure that you will be able to grow all the wheat that Azerbaijan needs and if you grow more, we will be happy to purchase from you. This is one of the things that we talked about. Israel purchases wheat from several countries and we want to diversify the imports.
I have to say that agriculture is not only about wheat. You also grow many kinds of fruits and vegetables and we would like to deepen the trade between our countries.
Israel has a lot of knowledge in agritech. It means that we make much more precise agriculture. We can use each and every acre of land and get more products from any piece of land that we are working on. This is food security. It is about knowing what to grow, where to grow and how to get the yield even in arid and semi-arid regions,” said the minister.
He went on to add that Israel had a lot of challenges during the years, had to deal with lack of water, with arid regions.
“And we are a small state. That made us use technology to overcome the challenges that we had during the years. Now, of course, we did it with water and we know how to use water, how to manage water systems in Israel, water recycling. Those issues are actually touching food security. You can’t grow fruit without water, but you can grow fruit with the right use of water without wasting it. With that I think that we can help Azerbaijan to better use water, recycling water and to manage the water system.
As I said, some Israeli companies are already active in Azerbaijan, but we need more companies to be more active and we need to set a strategic plan for five years for both countries,” noted the Israeli
Forer pointed out that Israeli companies are active also in building a smart village in Karabakh.
“I had a chance to visit Karabakh. This is actually remarkable to see what region is coming through. A year ago, there was nothing there, but now, after a year, the village is almost ready and this is inspiring for me, especially, when I see the use of Israeli technologies in agriculture in those territories. I think the future of that area, any area is about using high technologies in agriculture. With climate change and global warming, it will be very difficult to do agriculture without these technologies. We need to start now to change the way that people do agriculture. There is a region where you can start from the very beginning and to build it right. There are challenges, but the opportunities are unlimited.
There is an agreement signed with an Israeli company Mekorot, that has a lot of knowledge in irrigation, water systems. Actually, this company manages the whole water system in Israel. We know how to do it, how to help with that. I think there is a lot of potential. I think that not in long time we can build a good water system. This is the vision that the Azerbaijani government is promoting,” he said.
The minister pointed out that Israel is willing to share the knowledge that it has.
“I am sure that by sharing that both countries can earn something. We will be a partner in agriculture in Azerbaijan and our companies can show the whole world how we can help our friends and I am sure that Azerbaijan will enjoy a new region that is becoming a blooming region,” Oded Forer concluded.