Turning sand into land

The Negev brackish water aquifers are one-quarter the size of the desert and contain 300 billion cubic meters. Even larger deposits are estimated to lie under the great Saharan tracts of Africa and in the third world, where drought and hunger are prevalent, food supplies inadequate. 

There, desertification has already claimed millions of acres, and every year encroaches unchecked on millions more. Hence, others are looking to Israel's experience as a prototype for combating hunger problems in the world's arid zones. The American Society for Horticultural Sciences recently called Israeli automated desert agriculture technology ``one of the most significant advances in food production in the past 100 years.'' With support from the US Agriculture Department, Israeli farmers are helping Navajo families in Arizona's Painted Desert stretch their scant water resources. 

Tahal, a leading Israeli agrotech company is working to help tap aquifers, install drip systems, and diversify local agriculture in the Panhandle and arid parts of western Texas.