Yotvata is the modern name of an oasis with saline marshes located in Israel’s southern Arava (rift valley), about 25 miles north of Eilat and Aqaba on the Red Sea. The name Yotvata is based on the possible identification of the oasis with Biblical “Jotbathah, a land with brooks of water” (Deut. 10:7), one of the Israelites’ encampments during their desert wanderings. The water springs and location made Yotvata a focus for settlement in different periods, with a number of ancient sites located around the oasis.
The kibbutz was founded at the end of 1957 by a group of young people aged 20, “gareen” members from a “Nahal” unit of the United Kibbutz Movement. Up until the foundation of Yotvata as a permanent settlement, it was a “Nahal” settlement called “Ain Radyan”. In 1960 the first children were born in the kibbutz.
From the period of the Nahal settlement, before the permanent settlement, there were agricultural experiments in order to study the unknown local conditions – the land, water and climate. They tried to grow different kinds of fruit trees and various types of vegetables. In the first few years they planted citrus trees, guavas, pomegranates and, of course, a vineyard which was ploughed up in the 70’s. The date orchard which, by the end of the year, will cover 100 acres, was the first orchard in the Southern Arava. To this was added a mango plantation in the 80’s which now covers 50 acres. Today they grow onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn and turf as well as cattle fodder.
The largest production branch in Yotvata is the dairy. It’s base was the Cowsheds which were developed in spite of the experts warnings that in the climate of the Arava it would be impossible to cultivate a milking herd. In spite of them the Cowsheds of Yotvata are among the foremost in the country. The dairy was founded in 1964 by a kibbutz member, Uri Horazo, who was tragically killed in a road accident in 1966.
In 1998 the dairy became incorporated with the Strauss dairy, giving equal partnership to Strauss and Yotvata. This change has allowed the dairy to take the big jump into the year 2000. It has opened up information resources on the national and international levels, with Strauss and Danone. Milk, their principle raw material, is still supplied by their own dairy herd and the kibbutzim in the area allowing for close controls on freshness and quality.
Yotvata Dairy products now include: milk, flavored milk drinks, yogurts, and puddings all produced with the newest and most advanced technologies and according to ISO 9002 standards in keeping with our continuing commitment to high quality products.
Yotvata is the oldest kibbutz in the Southern Arava. During the 60’s and 70’s other kibbutzim were founded; Eilot 1962, Grofit 1966, Ketura 1973 and Samar 1976. Later came Yahel, Elifaz and Lotan. In the 80’s, in the Shizafon valley, Neve Harif and in the 90’s, Neot Smadar. Each of these settlements is a partner in the area council of Hevel Eilot. The council provides the basic services necessary in spite of the distance from the centre of the country – 320 kms. from Tel Aviv, 200 from Be’er Sheva. These services include; education, public transport, refuse collecting, research and development and cultural events. The agricultural experimental station, where some members of Yotvata work, helps Yotvata. The station was developed in the 60’s and is still involved in the agricultural development in the area.