Israeli Oranges Have a New Ally Against Pests

The new method is now employed on over 10,000 dunam in the area, a number expected to double next year.

Yanir Yagna
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Yanir Yagna

Citrus farmers in the Besor region of the Western Negev are going green. A special project launched jointly by the Agriculture Ministry, the Citrus Growers Association and the pest-control company Bio-Fly is encouraging more and more farmers in the area to stop using chemical pest-control substances in favor of a novel - and environmentally friendly - method known as Sterile Insect Technique.

According to the company's website, the method is based on the "mass release of sterile insects of the target species, which compete with wild males for the wild females prevalent in the field. Due to the quantitative advantage of the sterile males, a large percentage of the females mate with them, producing eggs that are infertile, leading to a gradual reduction in the pest population."

Dr. Gal Yaakobi. The new method is used on over 10,000 dunams.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The new method is now employed on over 10,000 dunams in the area, a number expected to double next year.

"We grow the flies in the Bio-Fly factory until the pupa phase, then sterilize them and place them in a special container we set up in Kibbutz Gvulot, in the Eshkol area," said project director Dr. Gal Yaakobi. "There we pack the flies into packages, and special teams with the company spread them around nearby orchards."

"Green pest control - that's how it's described by local farmers - has several advantages. Consumers receive cleaner, fresher fruit and growers are spared having to perform arduous labor," Yaakobi said.

Yaakobi added that the new pest-control technique is no more expensive than traditional chemical methods.

"The farmer pays about the same for Sterile Insect Technique as for chemical methods, thanks to subsidies from the Agriculture Ministry," he explained to Haaretz. "With time, this technique will succeed and the price will fall significantly, and then the subsidies can be abolished."

Yaakobi said area farmers have set a precedent for growers nationwide.

"Farmers in the Besor region are leading this process of change in growing culture, in terms of product quality as well as its marketing and branding. It's clear to all of us that this is the future of agriculture in this country - both green and economically viable," he said.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, this month.

Lapid to Haaretz: ‘I Have Learned to Respect the Left’

“Dubi,” whose full name is secret in keeping with instructions from the Mossad.

The Mossad’s Fateful 48 Hours Before the Yom Kippur War

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer