At the end of 2014, I had the opportunity to visit Israel for a very productive five-day study trip to better understand the Israeli agricultural sector.
Boaz Tamir (President of Israel Lean Enterprise) and I visited three kibbutzes, a cooperative of village farmers, milk producers, wine makers, olive oil producers, fish farmers, and then the Central Agricultural Cooperative Union. We also had a chance to meet with a number of regulating boards, as well as two well-known agro-companies, Netafim and Plasson.
Meeting so many capable and inspiring people was the highlight of my trip, for which I need to thank Boaz and his friend Issak Lidor (an expert in farming and agriculture, in which he has worked his entire life, up to point when he held a senior management position at the Ministry of Agriculture), who also contributed to making my time in Israel memorable.
Israel is known internationally as a pioneering and extremely successful country when it comes to farming, dairy farming and agriculture. Because water is in short supply there, Israel has invested heavily in research and developed technological innovations to enable efficient ways to irrigate and grow crops. It also produces 12,000 liters of milk per cow annually, a world record.
I’ve been studying Israeli agriculture for a long time, developing a keen interest in how this sector deals with topics like leadership and people engagement and development (that are close to a lean person’s heart).
Within Israeli society, agriculture is the most creative and innovative industry, together with high-tech start-ups. It is a value-creating community that has shown great resilience (considering its long history and the dramatic changes that Israel’s society and economy have endured) and made great progress in the adoption of lean thinking.
The Israeli agricultural sector must be studied in depth, and represents a model for the rest of the world.