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Variations on making the desert bloom

Israeli gardening techniques in south Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska)

Israeli gardening techniques in south Lebanon. (Photo by Amelia Opalinska)

Hitchhiking from eastern Ecuador to the indigenous market town of Otavalo north of Quito last week, my friend Amelia and I observed a sizable concentration of greenhouses in a section of Pichincha province. Accompanying the greenhouses was a sizable concentration of roadside advertisements for what appeared to be a less than indigenous company called Israriego, in which the “riego” portion of the term signified irrigation.

Further investigation into the company’s roots was not for the moment feasible, as Amelia and I were in the tenth hour of an 11-hour hitchhiking journey that had begun with a 2-hour stint in the back of a pickup truck in the rain and had additionally coincided with a state of severe hangover.

A subsequent visit to the Israriego website, however, revealed that the firm had been providing Ecuador with Israeli agro-industrial technology for the past two decades, in addition to Israeli fruit and vegetable seeds.

Themes of cross border agricultural incursions brought to mind complaints from friends in Turkey, who claimed that interference by Israeli seed distributors in Turkish farming methods had altered the taste and reproduction processes of Turkish tomatoes. Such disruptions pale in significance, however, when compared with other regional agricultural practices such as bulldozing olive trees and appropriating water supplies.

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