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Washington Seeks Drought Advice from Israeli Agriculture Expert

Dr. Joseph Shalhevet, chief scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and a world expert on water and soil conservation, arrived in Washington Monday to share with U.S. officials Israel’s experience with drought situations, and how it may be applied to the drought now ravaging America’s Midwest.

In an interview here shortly before he left for Washington, Shalhevet said he will meet with senators, U.S. representatives and members of the drought committee recently appointed by President Reagan, as well as various officials in the administration.

Shalhevet said he will concentrate on sharing Israeli know-how on preventive measures against drought.

“Once you have a drought, the only thing to do is to pray for rain,” he said. “But you can take preventive steps and measures on a continued basis to avoid the damage of drought in the future,” he explained.

The Israeli expert said that his discussions will include potential long- and short-term goals when dealing with drought conditions, including water conservation methods, use of effluent and saline water for agriculture, temporary means to support an agriculture environment during a drought and the handling of dry soil after a drought.

“Israel has very scarce sources of water supply,” said Shalhevet, who is also director of the Volcani Center, the agricultural research organization of the State of Israel.

“We developed, therefore, a sophisticated system of irrigation which has proved itself to be the best measure against drought,” he said, adding that one of his main recommendations to fight drought in America in the future will be the establishment of an irrigation network.

Another long-term solution is the use of effluent water, or purified sewage water, Shalhevet said. By the end of this decade, 50 percent of Israel’s irrigation will be effluent water.

Shalhevet’s visit to the United States is sponsored by the American Friends of the Volcani Center. It was arranged after members of the drought committee expressed interest in hearing the Israeli expert.

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