Following a United Nations bill that Israel had proposed last week to allow a smoother flow of agricultural technologies into the developing world, Israel is now launching the what it is calling the Facebook or Wikipedia of agricultural technologies.
The idea was launched last week at Agrivest in Tel Aviv.
Following this announcement, a group of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and their colleagues say they have won an $200,000 grant for three years from the Ministry of Agriculture to establish and develop an information technology center.
The group is led by Amots Hetzroni of the Agricultural Research Organization Volcani Center.
The new center will characterize the existing use of information technology in agriculture, map it and then build a model to incorporate information technology in modern farming and assist farmers in implementing the model.
BGU researchers Gilad Ravid, Lior Fink and Adir Even from the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management will be joined by researchers from the Volcani Center, Bar-Ilan University, The Israel Innovation Institute, and the Agam advanced agronomy company.
“The awareness of information technology and information applications of one sort or another exists in almost every branch of production in agriculture. However, despite the consumers’ awareness and the rapid progress of information technologies, the pace of adoption and implementation of information technology is still slow,” according to Ravid.
There is a gap between what information technologies the agriculturalists are aware of and what they actually implement, he says.
Ravid stresses that systems to share information and knowledge in agriculture have generally been developed by integrating specific and local demands into a general system (bottom-up approach), “however, in this project we will first plan the wider picture (top-down approach), so that all the systems will draw from the same shared design guidelines.
“We intend to promote the possibility of transferring and supplying information across organizations and systems and to tailor it to a wide variety of applications, cultures and terms,” Ravid said.
Certainly some of the technologies we saw being created at the Dev4Dev Hackathon in Tel Aviv at the Google Campus, technologies like Platfarm which helps farmers connect with delivery trucks, could be part of this new initiative.
We love to see the startup nation merging its smarts from the new world of IT to the old world of agriculture. Watch Israel’s space for developments in this area, and the Agrivest annual event to get in touch with companies worth investing in.
Image of ipad at the farm from Shutterstock