Joint Israeli-Palestinian workshop on environmentally-friendly crop protection

(Looking beyond the standard lapse into misozoonistic language – ‘pests’ – of this bulletin from the Peres Center for Peace to appreciate the direction it points in:)

Farmer holding birdFifty Palestinian and Israeli Farmers Gather for First Workshop to Find Environmentally Friendly Solutions to Controlling Rodents in Open Field Crops

Palestinian farmers spent two days in Israel together with Israeli farmers at a workshop for the “Pest Management: Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian Cooperation for Environmentally Friendly Pest Management” project. Through working together to find solutions to agricultural problems that transcend borders, Palestinian and Israeli famers are better equipped to implement industry-best and ‘green’ methods of pest control.

The Palestinian farmers spent the night in Beit Shean after attending an introductory welcome dinner. The Israeli farmers joined the group the following morning beginning with a demonstration on bird ringing (a procedure of placing an identification ring on the bird which weighs and examines its physical details). The participants then went on a tour to see Barn Owl and Kestrel nests, where they learned about the life-cycles of the birds. They learnt of the importance of these birds of prey as biological solutions to pests such as rodents – an environmentally friendly, more economical alternative to poisonous bait that is currently used, which pollutes the soil and is harmful to the ecosystem and to other birds.

The participants showed much interest and enthusiasm in the tour, which for some, was their first time seeing these birds from such a short distance. The day continued with lectures at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu on identifying locations for placement of owl nests, requirements of nests including the different requirements for Kestrel and Barn Owls, as well as techniques for monitoring rodents using humanitarian traps. The farmers discussed different issues related to the Barn Owl – which in Arab culture is believed to bring bad luck. By the end of the workshop farmers showed willingness to implement the techniques they had learnt as a substitute for laying poisoned bait, which is the most commonly implemented method of pest control.

A Palestinian participant commented: “I found the workshop very useful and interesting, particularly realizing that the Barn Owl can be a solution for pest control that is good for the ecosystem. The lectures were of a very high level, and I will definitely recommend the use of Barn Owl in the future.”

This workshop series is a joint partnership between the Peres Centre for Peace, the Amman Center for Peace and Development and a Palestinian partner and Tel Aviv University, funded by the European Union.

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