Israel trains Pinoys on new farm technology

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ROUNDTABLE GUEST Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ben Matityau (2nd to left)  discusses cooperation between his country and the Philippines during a roundtable at The Manila Times Office in Manila. With him are Israel Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Adam Michael Levene, The Manila Times President and CEO Dante F.M. Ang (right) and  City Editor Giovanni Nilles.  PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

ROUNDTABLE GUEST Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ben Matityau (2nd to left) discusses cooperation between his country and the Philippines during a roundtable at The Manila Times Office in Manila. With him are Israel Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Adam Michael Levene, The Manila Times President and CEO Dante F.M. Ang (right) and City Editor Giovanni Nilles. PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

Israel is helping the Philippines enter a new era in agriculture that is anchored on knowledge of markets and technology, which has attracted younger people to take up farming as a vocation.

In a roundtable on Monday with editors and reporters of The Manila Times, Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Effie Ben Matityau said his country continues to host agriculture Filipino students who want to be trained on agriculture technology.

“The Philippines has become a beneficiary of this program,” the ambassador said. There are 540 Filipino agriculture students in Israel who are undergoing training on the country’s farming technologies.

Matityau added that in the past 10 years, about 2,000 students mostly from state universities and colleges (SUCs) from as far as the Cordillera region have undergone training in Israeli farming technology.


The Philippines is second only to Vietnam in the number of students currently in Israel undergoing training.

The ambassador said the Israeli Embassy will be partnering with the Commission on Higher Education (CHed), departments of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in coming up with an agenda to continue the program of sending Filipino agriculture students to Israel.

The agencies in partnership with the Israeli Embassy are the major players of the Coalition for Advanced Agricultural Technologies. CHed has jurisdiction over SUCs in the Philippines.

Under the program, students who finish their training on Israeli farming technologies and knowledge must “give back” to their community or school, the ambassador said. This “payback” can be in the form of establishing farms in the community or school that showcase how agriculture technologies and knowledge from Israel can help improve local farm productivity.

“This is a kind of formula we tested, [and]the most successful is in India,” Matityau said.

He stressed that the success of a country’s farming sector also relies on knowledge of markets, which include the export markets.

“Philippine agricultural sector depends on high-end markets. It’s about markets. And it has a market which is untouched, which is the export market,” Matityau said.

He explained that the Philippines can serve markets that do not have enough domestically-grown food during the cold or winter months.

According to www.israel21c.org, Israel exports $2 billion fruits and vegetables a year. Israeli farmers employ intensive farming, which uses technologies like drip or controlled irrigation, greenhouses and mechanization to make its lands, which are largely desserts, highly productive.

Importance of IT sector
While he emphasized the need for the country’s farming sector to
achieve a higher level of productivity and tap export markets, Matityau said the agriculture sector can be “the biggest hope, biggest curse and biggest liability” for a developing country.

This is because the farming sector, particularly in developing countries, does not contribute much to gross domestic product (GDP) but employs a high percentage of its workforce.

“The economy cannot sustain 50 percent to 60 percent employment in agriculture. It’s a global issue in the developing world,” he said.

The Israeli ambassador added that development of a country’s Information Technology (IT) sector is also important.

He said that outside of Silicon Valley, Israel has the most number of IT start-up companies.

Matityau also explained that because Israel has a thriving IT sector and its farming sector can feed the whole nation and still export some products, the percentage of its population engaged in farming is small.

“The farming sector of Israel contributed 3.0 percent to GDP and employment is 1.5 percent [of the population],” he said.

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2 Comments

  1. Arch. Lito L.Mallonga on

    This news is a good news so we can bring back our farmers
    towards the land. All those land for so many years has been unproductive
    so both the land owners and framers can join forces and help feed our
    people rather than importing goods from outside the country.

    Most of the 7,100 islands are surrounded by the sea and I yet we do not
    take advantage of it. Infrastructure is the KEY to make it work. Israel and other
    countries including North America has been using this technology through
    all the years now due to the supply during the winter season but not enough
    to sustain with the cost of energy power.

    If Thailand and now Vietnam who has just recovered from the war are now
    providing rice to the Philippines, why can’t we do it too.
    Just too much politics in our country and hope one day we open our eyes
    when we keep on importing our basic needs that will drain our economy.
    Our OFW can not sustain in helping our economy all the time. One day other
    countries will stop hiring OFW.

    Rather than sending our people out of the country, is it now the right time
    to start developing our infrastructure. We have done our role in helping
    other countries that starts in Saudi Arabia in the early 60’s and spread
    all over the Middle East and towards EU and North America up to the present.

    All what I said can be done but takes TEAM WORK & TRUST
    to make it work. That is all I can say.