Aiming to boost crop yields of plants like chickpeas and soybeans, the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment has been awarded a $789,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The grant, whose application was facilitated by the New York-based American Friends of Hebrew University (AFHU), will enable the establishment of a Unit of Correlative Microscopy at the university’s Rehovot campus. By employing the advanced microscopy equipment, researchers will be able to study the tissue and cell makeup of crops like chickpeas and soybeans, while they are grown under environmentally stressful conditions, according to AFHU, a not-for-profit organization that garners support for the Hebrew University in the US.
The ultimate goal of the research unit, which will be specifically funded by USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program (ASHA), is to boost crop yields by improving plant-breeding techniques, a statement from AFHU said. Previously, this USAID program funded a $400,000 grant to the Hebrew University campus in 2013, to upgrade its Phytotron climate-controlled greenhouse.
“AFHU is delighted to continue this vital partnership between The Hebrew University and ASHA,” stated Beth McCoy, national executive director of AFHU. “ASHA’S commitment to assist developing nations is enhanced by The Hebrew University’s efforts to help feed the world by developing tools and methods to grow hardy, healthful crops under challenging environmental conditions. The university has great expertise in plant sciences, knowledge that is urgent in light of rapid population growth worldwide.”