Drought-stricken Paraguayan Farms Adopt Israeli Drip Technology

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A farmer plants stevia seedlings at a plantation in Lima, Paraguay, May 25, 2016.
A farmer plants stevia seedlings at a plantation in Lima, Paraguay, May 25, 2016.Credit: Jorge Adorno, Reuters

Small farms in Paraguay are the latest to adopt Israeli drip irrigation technology in a drive to save water as a climate change-driven drought savages parts of the country and much of South America. 

Thirteen small farms will get the drip technology, made by the Israeli company Netafim, thanks to a collaboration between the Paraguayan Federation of Production Cooperatives and Israel. Ceremonial delivery of the systems is scheduled for June 29, reported La Nacion newspaper.

Drip technology literally drips water, complete with carefully calculared fertilizer enhancements, directly onto the roots of plants. The common alternative is irrigation by flooding.

Drip is a boon to farmers, who can save on water and fertilizer costs, achieving  larger crops per acre of land. Some experts worry that unlike flood irrigation, drip irrigation does not return water to underground aquifers: it remains to be proven that large-scale use of drip is truyly economical for the water economy at the national level. At the level of the farmer, certainly in a water-stressed environment, it certainly makes sense.

Installation and maintenance will be deployed by local representative Agroganadera Pirapey. The beneficiary farmers are expected to disseminate the newly acquired knowledge, says Israel's ambassador to Paraguay, Peleg Lewi.

The Israeli embassy in Asuncion was reopened last year after the closure in 2002 along with 15 other diplomatic missions around the world due to budgetary constraints. Paraguay is home to some 1,000 Jews in a population of nearly 6.7 million.

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