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Learning the Holy Land’s agriculture way

Saturday 14 January 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Features, Local, National, Weekend


Learning the Holy Land’s agriculture way
Cook Islands Ministry of Agriculture staff Piriariki Maao and Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki with other Pacific Islands agriculture staff in Israel. 23011249

Ministry of Agriculture staff Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki and Piriariki Maao are still counting their blessings for the opportunity to have set foot in the Holy Land a month ago.

The two had set out to attend a course at the Mashav Agriculture Training Centre in Israel where they visited various farms and at the same time visited places they have only read in the Bible or seen on the internet.

Samuela-TouAriki says the memories that will stick out are the various farm visits throughout Israel, especially the visit to the Demonstration Farm belonging to Netafim Company – the pioneers in drip irrigation in the world.

“Additionally, the opportunity to visit some of the biblical holy places like Jerusalem, Nazareth and Galilee.”

 Head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Temarama Anguna- Kamana says they were grateful for the opportunity given to the staff to attend a regional course on “Vegetable Production – Techniques and Technologies for Professionals from the Pacific Island Studies” provided by MASHAV – MATC’s Training Centre in Kibbutz Shefayim, Israel. 

The training was funded by MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and MATC – MASHAV’s Agricultural Training Centre.

According to Anguna-Kamana the two-week course was a continuance of two online programmes held in 2021.

“It was part of the former President of Israel’s commitment to the Pacific island states to assist with our livelihood and food security through the improvement of vegetable production.”

The whole course was divided into class presentations and classroom visits to allow participants to witness real life practices by farmers and experts.

From left: Cook Islands Piriariki Maao and Olga Slov - Director, Division for Asia and the Pacific, Pacific Department · Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel with Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki. 23011248 / SUPPLIED

The objective of the course was for Israel to share with participants from the Pacific island states Israel’s experience in developing intensive and sustainable vegetable production systems.

It was also to create a framework for the exchange of knowledge and experience between the delegation from the Pacific island states and Israeli professionals through the establishment of projects or activities to enhance food security and the livelihood of its people.

Anguna-Kamana says the objective was also for such experience to be enhanced through close contact with the Israeli Government Embassy in New Zealand, MASHAV and various technical and professional experts.

Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki with the Pacific women at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. 23011244/CECILIA SAMUELA-TOUARIKI

“The staff were exposed to the Israel agriculture sector and viewed the established infrastructure, technology that supported the innovations and the human resources with the necessary expertise to grow the sector in the environment that they have – arid, desert area.”

Anguna-Kamana says a few of the innovations that could potentially be implemented for the Cook Islands include:

  • Home BioGas Unit
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Greenhouse
  • Various Irrigation systems.

“These innovations could benefit our farmers on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua. 

“Through this attachment, we have established a connection with MATC – MASHAV’s Agricultural Training Centre and hope to have further opportunities for staff, Pa Enua Agriculture staff and our farmers to attend future training attachments in Israel.”

Anguna-Kamana says the Ministry has been advised that the Israel Ambassador may visit in June this year, adding this provides them the opportunity to highlight areas of support for Cook Islands farmers that require agriculture technical experts, technology, machinery or equipment.

Samuela-TouAriki says on this visit they learned about various intensive vegetable production techniques that Israel has to offer, with a major focus on organic or sustainable agriculture.

Cecilia Samuela-TouAriki visits the Jordan River. 23011243/CECILIA SAMUELA-TOUARIKI

They also learned techniques focusing on soilless agriculture like various types of hydroponics, greenhouse crop production, home biogas systems and irrigation.

Being their first visit to Israel and seeing their agriculture sector, Samuela-TouAriki said they were amazed with the vegetable production in arid areas of Israel.

Meanwhile, participants included two each from Tonga, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, three each from Solomon Islands and Samoa and four from Fiji.

Participants were from the government sector, private sector and non-government organisations – a total of 10 women and 12 men.