Regional Research and Development institutes were established in order to promote agricultural development and create means of production, which are essential to the existence of peripheral communities.
Regional research and development is not an alternative to agricultural research conducted in academic research institutes. Hence, it was decided to concentrate the financial resources devoted to research and development to attain short-term applications that would aid and solve practical problems in agriculture. Research and development stations do not generally deal with long-term basic research.
Regional Research and Development institutes are joint initiatives by the Ministry of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Administration), KKL-JNF, the Settlement Division of the Jewish Agency and Zionist Federation, branch heads, Production Councils, Regional Councils and various research funds. They were established in order to promote agricultural development and create means of production, which are essential to the existence of peripheral communities.
President Peres at the Arava research and development station. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
In the agricultural regions of the country, regional research and development stations operate with the aim of developing new crops and improving farming techniques for existing ones, to help farmers in peripheral parts of the country meet international competition and improve their profitability. These stations exploit the natural potential of peripheral regions: climate, soil, varieties of water sources and manpower quality. Field advisors and noted researchers work in these stations in cooperation with academic institutes.
KKL-JNF operates various regional research and development stations, each focusing on research of local conditions and needs. A brief review of their general interests can be understood by looking at several of the stations:
- The Central Arava Station is specializing in bio-organic agriculture and pesticide-free farming.
- The Southern Arava Station focuses its research relating to date cultivation and use of brackish water for irrigation. The Arava region produces about 60% of the total Israeli export of fresh vegetables and about 15% of the ornamentals. This could never be achieved without the innovative research at the local agricultural R&D stations, where we fund research to develop new crop strains that will diversify the economic basis of agriculture.
- The Bet She'an Valley Station is involved in studies relating to hothouse crops that are almost pesticide-free.
- The Besor Station is a global expert in the field of intensive greenhouse farming to produce better crops with less pesticides.
- The Ramat Negev Station conducts studies in animal husbandry and developing agro-tourism.
- The Northern Station is involved in economic research relating to development and marketing.
- The Central Mountain Area Station focuses on cold weather farming and grazing and growing grapes and spices.
In each regional R&D station research activity is conducted to suit local conditions. At the same time, the KKL Land Development Authority follows a policy of encouraging R&Ds whose results can be applied throughout the country, e.g.:
- Use of filters in fish ponds to allow recycling of water: this is equally applicable in the north and south of the country;
- Reduction in the use of pesticides – agricultural R&D aims to provide countrywide solutions that will enable the country to meet its obligations under international agreements banning the use of certain pesticides,
- Use of recycled wastewater and monitoring its effects.