Israeli drip system pioneer honored with top water prize

Netafim nabs Stockholm Industry Water Award for helping farmers in developing countries live better

A sugar cane project in Peru using Netafim drip irrigation systems (Photo credit: Courtesy Netafim)
A sugar cane project in Peru using Netafim drip irrigation systems (Photo credit: Courtesy Netafim)

Netafim, the Israeli company that invented drip irrigation, has been awarded what is considered the most prestigious honor in the world of water conservation and protection, the Stockholm Industry Water Award.

Netafim won the prize for “directly contributing to a more water and food secure world,” the award committee said. It’s a commercial enterprise, but one with a heart, the committee said — a company that has managed to figure out a way to expand and profit while having a truly positive impact on the developing world.

The Stockholm Industry Water Award has been awarded annually since 1991 by the Stockholm International Water Institute, which provides assistance and advice on water management, climate issues, water economics, and more. The organization, considered by the UN and other international groups as the premier international think tank on water issues, sponsors the annual World Water Week, with over 200 groups from around the world gathering to discuss water policy, during which the award is presented.

The winner gets a $150,000 award, plus a crystal sculpture specially designed by Swedish crystal company Orrefors. Previous winners include academicians, nonprofit groups, and such corporations as PepsiCo, Nestle and Procter & Gamble.

This year, Netafim was chosen by the organization for its decades of work in helping farmers more efficiently utilize its water and the assistance its solutions have provided small family farms, the award committee said.

“Netafim has designed a specific solution for small holder farmers in developing areas. The Family Drip System, a gravity-based drip irrigation system, eliminates the need for labour-intensive bucket irrigation,” the committee said.

“Beyond innovating technical systems, Netafim provides training, capacity building, and knowledge transfer in cooperation with local organizations to help farmers in developing countries maximize yields with existing resources,” according to the committee. In places like Niger and India, the company has trained tens of thousands of farmers to use its products effectively, enabling farmers to reduce waste and increase their incomes by 20 percent over three years.

Netafim also regularly holds seminars to educate farmers on water-saving techniques in locations around the world, the award committee said, adding that “beyond agriculture, they are also a leading provider of water saving solutions for mining and landscaping, improving their productivity while reducing the environmental impact.”

Netafim CEO and President Igal Aisenberg expressed his appreciation of the company’s selection.

“We are truly honored to receive the Stockholm Industry Water Award,” Aisenberg said. “As the global pioneer and leader in drip irrigation, we have always focused on saving water. This prestigious award is testimony to our efforts and inspires our work to continue to help reduce water usage and make the world a better, more sustainable place.”

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