GOING over my notes during my trip to Israel on December 2, 2011, a speaker said that in the early days, they had to heavily subsidize the small scale farmers so they can become more competitive.
Highly subsidize the small farmers? Yes, subsidies and lots of other incentives will move them to a higher level financially and otherwise. That’s the surest way of making them more competitive, more confident and more entrepreneurial.
The speaker said that it was necessary to make the farmers produce higher yields with better quality and at less cost. That’s because the other countries supplying their target foreign markets were exporting products that were superior to those produced by the small Israeli farmers. With the heavy subsidies the farmers can become more competitive.
How? With sufficient budget, they can plant better quality seeds. They can buy machines to mechanize their operations. They can adopt cost-cutting technologies like the use of drip irrigation which would use less water and less manpower. Fertilizing could also be applied through the drip system to further save more on labor.
Subsidies need not be only in terms of financial and other incentives. It could also mean sustained training so the farmers can acquire new skills and know-how through lectures, farm tours and the like.
In those early years the farmers were formed into cooperatives or associations so they could undertake production of target crops in volume. They could negotiate with bulk buyers to produce what the buyers need. The farmers could also put up their own processing plant, their own market, restaurants and the like. That way they would reap the maximum benefits from their agricultural pursuits
(The Israeli government invited us together with more than a dozen journalists around the world to show us the modern agricultural technologies developed by Israel that enabled them to make the deserts agriculturally productive. Apparently, we were invited so we can write about the amazing feats of Israeli farmers to produce food and other products that are more than the population can consume. The publicity could attract attendees to the Agritech Expo scheduled for May the following year.)