When the history of the decades-old Green Revolution in Asia and Africa is written, Israel’s Netafim — the company that brought drip irrigation to the world — will be prominently featured.
Now, a new Netafim website documents how the company helped create the revolution, which enabled countries like India to greatly expand their crop yields and better feed their burgeoning populations.
Numerous studies name drip irrigation as a key ingredient “to have a significant impact on resources saving, cost of cultivation, yield of crops and farm profitability” in India and elsewhere, according to a 2010 article by Indian academics. As the world’s largest drip irrigation technology manufacturer, Netafim can take much of the credit for those results.
Most Israelis have heard of Netafim, but many aren’t really aware of the impact the company has had on world agriculture, and many farmers who use drip irrigation don’t know much about the company that supplied it. There’s an important story waiting to be told, said Rachel Shaul, Head of Corporate Marketing at Netafim. To that end, the company recently inaugurated a new website designed to tell the story of Netafim, from its roots as a kibbutz company experimenting with ways to save water to its current status as a worldwide innovator in drip irrigation technology.
“There are many corporate websites that tell interesting stories about how the company impacted an industry and made a difference in the lives of people,” Shaul said. “But there are few that can claim the life-changing impact that Netafim has had. For that reason alone it’s important that our story be heard.”
Founded in 1965, Netafim operates in 150 countries through 37 subsidiaries, with 13 factories throughout the world. The company has 3,000 employees, 2,000 of whom are employed in the company’s manufacturing plants.
Chock-full of interviews, articles, period photos, and more, the website traces Netafim’s roots from the work done in the Negev by inventor Simcha Blass and the early models of drip irrigation devices manufactured at Kibbutz Hatzerim in the mid-1960s. In 1967, the company had its first sales to farms in Israel, and it began exporting not long afterwards. The site lists the different milestones and innovations in the drip irrigation business (1979, first drip irrigation system for sugar cane; 1985, first system for cotton), and describes some of the company’s major projects around the world, in places as diverse and far-flung as Peru, Senegal, and Russia, among others.
There’s a “museum” area on the site as well, with exhibitions on the history of drip irrigation, how the technology is used in vineyards, and others. For students doing a report on drip irrigation or how farmers can save water, this is a site to bookmark. In addition, there are interviews with Netafim executives, agricultural experts, and scientists on the future of agriculture, and how the company’s activities — Netafim is now involved in greenhouse construction, agricultural technology, water recycling, crop development and more — will help shape the agricultural future. The site also features a guestbook (not very extensively written in right now, but the site has barely been up for a month, said Shaul).
The site, of course, is designed to promote the Netafim brand — the company expects customers and prospective customers to be its biggest audience — but it’s a source of pride for all supporters of Israel.
“We consulted with museum sites to determine the best way to promote this information, and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from all over the world,” said Shaul, adding that the company was thinking of translating the site into other languages, such as Spanish, in order to further spread the word on Netafim and its connection to Israel.
“It’s a great source of pride for our workers, but also for all Israelis, I think,” Shaul said. “How many companies can say that their products help make sure that tens of millions have enough to eat every day?”