To make a desert bloom: The Israeli agricultural adventure and the quest for sustainability

Alon Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article offers an overview of the vicissitudes faced by Israeli agriculture during the past century. The Zionist pioneers who came from Europe to Palestine sought to "reclaim" the status of Jewish farmers in their homeland. This ethic translated into an extraordinary societal support for Israel's agrarian economy and steady growth in agricultural production. Seven key factors are identified as being critical to this record of success, including a commitment to food security, water development, and technological innovation. Yet, during the past twenty years numerous changes in local and international dynamics have posed substantial challenges to Israel's agricultural sector. In addition, while Israeli agriculture has largely halted erosion and restored desertified lands of the Negev Desert, it also produced myriad environmental side effects including water contamination and excessive pesticide usage. The article considers responses to these challenges that offer promising prospects for a sustainable agricultural future in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-257
Number of pages30
JournalAgricultural History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


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