Founding a Plant for Production of Organic Seeds in the Negev
Genesis Seeds Rises to the Challenge
agriculture in general, and the cultivation of organic seeds specifically in the high-negev area, has to deal with the challenges and difficulties that do not exist in other areas of the country. salty soil, sparce rainwater, extreme temperature changes and other desert terrain conditions are an obstacle for many manufacturers, but genesis seeds, founded by the nir family, rose to the challenge. the location of the factory in the negev forced the management, professionals and staff to adapt their knowledge and experience to the existing conditions, in order to ensure not only the ongoing production of seeds, but also the production of high-quality and uniform seeds.
while shai nir, ceo of genesis seeds, was traveling in the far east, his father, yitzhak nir, the company’s founder, suggested that he return to israel to establish a family seed production unit. shai agreed, on one condition, that the factory will be established in the negev. so, in 1996 the decision was reached to establish the family company for the production of seeds at ashalim in the high-negev area, a part of the israeli desert.
despite the desert conditions that are not an ideal climate for seed production, the decision was based on several principles that were important to the family – contributing to the flourishing of the desert wilderness, providing sources of income for the residents of the desert, and rising to the challenge of developing agriculture in an uninhabited area without existing infrastructure.
turning the disadvantages into advantages:
over time it became clear that the location and climate, which could be considered the main disadvantages of the area for agricultural purposes, are actually significant advantages in seed production. the reduction in agricultural areas means that there is less of a risk for the movement of organic material between the agricultural areas, as well as fewer diseases that pass between the crops. also, the desert climate was found to be most suitable for drying the seeds, with less moisture and, consequently, less chances for the development of fungi and parasites.
although the negev has more land that can be converted for agricultural crops, this requires vast effort and investment in improving the soil and making it suitable for growing seeds. desert loess soil is rich in minerals, therefore major treatment and preparations are required for soil improvement, including the repeated introduction of organic compost and concealment in the soil.
over the years, it turned out that determination and perseverance in growing and developing seeds in the negev was worthwhile, as the process proved that seed production in these special conditions contributed greatly to the development of vigorous crops –this feeling was intensified following positive responses from customers.
high-quality production of seeds:
genesis seeds is a leading company on a global scale in the field of innovation and production of organic seeds of herbs and vegetables. herbs include thyme, stevia and marjoram and organic vegetables include special varieties of zucchini, eggplant, artichokes, cucumbers and more.
in recent years, the company has introduced two innovative developments to the market. the first is the product of a long research and development process, held in collaboration with bar ilan university, which has led to the creation of a new series of basil, resistant to downy mildew, known to cause a lot of damage in the basil industry. this series was released into the market about two years ago. in addition, the company has developed a variety of sunflowers with multi-flowers, that was launched to the market in the past year.
according to nir, the high and constant quality of the seeds, together with their being organic, is increasing demand both in israel and abroad, following the valuable reputation that the genesis seeds brands have gained all over the world. in order to maintain these qualities and the reputation, the company ensures self-production through personal care and accompanying by agronomists at genesis seeds, who closely monitor the production process and ensure that all work is done in accordance with the requirements of all international standards for organic certifications which is not always possible when production is performed abroad.
currently, almost all the company’s activity zones are located in ashalim in the negev. the company’s complex includes growing areas, some adapted for growing hybrid and other special varieties of vegetables, seeds milling center and a warehouse. although the company uses growers in other areas of the country in order to meet demand for its products, the crux of the work is located in the negev, from the moment the factory was established.
while most seed production companies prefer to produce the seeds in distant countries at lower costs, genesis seeds is a good example of the fact that despite the higher local costs and growing difficulties the conditions of the negev desert in israel allow for the production of quality seeds, and also that investment and determination are vital for agriculture in desert conditions.
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this article is part of the digital issue – agriculture in arid zones