Dov Pasternak, Father of "Farmers of the Future" - Part 1

February 16, 2015

When Dov Pasternak was 16 years old, his school took a trip to the Negev Desert in southern Israel. When he returned, he told his friends "I'm going to become an agricultural scientist and make the desert bloom!" Years after that promise, that is precisely what he has done.

Dov Pasternak is unique. He combines world class agricultural science with a focus on practical application, a flair for marketing and business, enormous creativity, and a humanitarian heart 5 times normal size.

Dov, the father of the "Farmers of the Future" program, is creating sustainable pathways out of poverty in the Sahel region, the semi-arid region just south of the Sahara desert. His insights and expertise have helped over one hundred thousand people transition from subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture. Put simply, Dov believes these farmers deserve more than the right to survive, they deserve the opportunity to prosper. To the people he has helped, partnered with, and inspired, Dov Pasternak is much more than a scientist. He is a hero!

Background and Early Life - Dov began life in Brazil before moving to Israel when he was 9 years old. He attended primary school in Haifa and secondary school at Kefar Galim Agricultural School. After two and a half years in the Israeli Army he did his undergraduate work at Hebrew University, then completed his graduate studies at the University of Queenslands-Australia. 

His Work Has Been Extraordinary - After receiving his PhD (identifying crops that can be irrigated with salt water!) Dov returned to Israel. He spent the next 30 years at Ben Gurion University of the Negev where he and a group of his cohorts developed drip irrigation, the technology credited with making the desert bloom. Dov personally introduced drip irrigation to several continents around the globe.  

In the last 15 years Dov has focused on sub-Saharan African where his impact has been immense. He developed the African Market Garden (AMG), a revolutionary low-pressure irrigation system for small scale farmers. The AMG is now used by more than 30,000 farmers across 6 nations. Senegal has recently started an initiative to install AMG's for over 8,000 more. 

Dov's initiatives have made a great impact on the agricultural scene. But even with drip irrigation and the African Market Garden, there was much more to come. 

We'll pause with Dov's story now, and share the rest in an upcoming post. In the meantime though, share your thoughts below: has Dov's story inspired you? How so? 

We're looking forward to sharing more in Part 2