Rivlin in Gaza vicinity
Rivlin in Gaza vicinity Mark Neiman, GPO

President Reuven Rivlin today, Wednesday, visited the farmers of the area around Gaza. The president began his visit at Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha with local farmers who are dealing with a new reality created by the coronavirus pandemic, and continued his visit to the Hinoman factory, which produces Mankai duckweed, at Kibbutz Be’eri. Before he left, he began the wheat harvesting season in the fields of Kibbutz Sa’ad.

The president’s first stop was at the corn and sunflower seeds next to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, where he heard about the agricultural produce of the area around Gaza and the recent problems. The president was accompanied on his visit by head of the Eshkol Regional Council Gadi Yarkoni and farmers Dan Weizman from Ein Habsor, Lior Katri from Moshav Ohad, Galil Nachum from Moshav Mivtachim, Yohanan Kopler from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, Yedidia Hochman from Moshav Bnei Netzarim, Orna Eisenstein from Kibbutz Magen and Shmuel Blaberman from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak.

Currently, the agricultural produce from Eshkol Regional council represents about 60% of demand from the domestic market in Israel. In the area around Gaza, which the president referred to as ‘surrounding Israel’, typical Israeli fruit and vegetables are grown: cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants, lettuce, herbs, cabbage, watermelon, melons, pineapple, strawberries, avocado and more.

Speaking to the farmers, the president said, “Coronavirus has opened our eyes to things that were once taken for granted, and we simply forgot them. For example, the importance of the foundations of this country, one of which is agriculture. The phrase ‘buy blue and white’ had some importance, and we knew that we could always take best care of ourselves and we were proud of it. Over time, market forces and economic issues have led the way, but these days remind us of the fundamentals. Israel’s independence is the most important thing, and without agriculture, Israel has no independence. From here I ask you, Israeli citizens, buy blue and white. Buy Israeli produce. Buy the wonderful produce here.”

The president continued his visit to the agrifood-tech Hinoman company at the greenhouses of Kibbutz Be’eri, where he was shown Mankai duckweed, a green leafy vegetable dubbed ‘the future of food’ after eight years of research and international investment. Mankai is grown in the largest greenhouse pools of their kind in the world, using a growing environment controlled by sensors, a computerized system and a secret fertilizer formula. This is a new kind of agriculture, needing no earth, using minimal quantities of water and lighting and without human workers.

Mankai contains protein identical in profile to that found in eggs, a high level of iron and an ideal quantity of Omega-3, dietary fiber and vitamins to help strengthen the immune system. They have all been scientifically proven to be digestible by humans.

CEO of Hinoman Ron Salpeter explained “this green super-vegetable is perfectly nutritious and produced by unique technology that we developed in a way to ensure consistency and positive impact on physical performance. Leading research institutes around the world see Mankai as an opportunity for a real revolution in the quality of food and a contribution to physical resilience. We have all seen recently how much we rely on our immune system to deal with the corona pandemic. The idea of eating what we are used to, but in a way that is healthier, is a true revolution.”

At the end of his visit to the Gaza area, the president began the wheat harvest season in the fields of Kibbutz Sa’ad, accompanied by the field manager Chaim Landsman and wheat grower Yehuda Nir. Yehuda drove the combine harvester with the president sitting in the cab, and together they began harvesting this season’s wheat with hopes of bumper yields and security.

Head of Eshkol Regional Council Gadi Yarkoni: “We are so excited to welcome the president to our fields and to begin the harvest with him. During these months, with the coronavirus pandemic breaking out, the State of Israel has been given a serious reminder of the importance of Israeli agriculture for the resilience and food security of its people. We have been blessed with a president who is connected to agriculture, who appreciates and knows Israeli farming, who gives us the strength to continue, despite the challenges.”