VIDEO - New varieties of strawberry were introduced to Israelis recently on an open day hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Strawberry growers and visitors from all over Israel came to learn about new tastes and interesting combinations. Farmers from the Gaza Strip came to visit their Israeli colleagues and exchange impressions.
The event offered not only tasting of different kinds of the same species, but also do-it-yourself tasting of the chocolate-covered fruit.
Much has been done in the last decade to reduce the use of toxic insecticides and replace them by natural processes.
One method used now is an intentional dissemination of insects in the growth area and leaving them there to do their job of killing the harmful insects.
"The 'good' insects make the growth area their home and stay there to the end of the season. We plant in October and several weeks later we spread them around," explains Erez Tokoshinko of the Bio Bee Company for biological pest control
Then, when the strawberries arrive, there is no danger of damaged by vermin, and almost no need for spraying pesticides.
"Before we even see the vermin we can see how the 'good' insects we had brought in four months ago in October are there, eating. They are sitting on the vermin's colonies and eating them."
In the past, the strawberry was considered a prestigious fruit and most of the crops were exported to other countries.
The visitors from Gaza are interested in increasing their strawberry variety and improving their growing methods.
"We have come here to examine the new species, to see what's new, because our growers grow the same one species all the time," says Mahmood A.S. Kla-Al, chairman of Flower and Strawberry Growers in the Gaza Strip. "In Gaza it's an open area. We're trying to start greenhouses, but meanwhile we grow only in open areas."
In addition to the use of insects as a biological pest control, strawberry growers also raise bumblebees.
This helps to decrease the use of growth additives such as hormones.
"The worker bees go outside and collect powder and nectar for the newborns. When they sit on a flower and collect the powder and the nectar they cause the flower to shake. They have a mechanism of jolting and shaking the plant," says Erez Tokoshinko.
Reprinted with permission from NTD Television