(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
More than one hundred applicable research projects in various branches of agriculture were presented at an open day at Northern Research and Development station. The open day was held at the orchards farm in the upper Galilee. At the same time, the First Agricultural Convention took place at Kibbutz Kfar Bloom, and was attended by President Shimon Peres and KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. Professor Tzvi Eckstein
Some of the topics of research projects that were presented at the open day included development of new varieties of fruits and vegetables, modern methods of cultivation, saving water, biological control, and environmentally friendly agriculture. In addition to scientific activities, the thousands of visitors were also invited to view the rich and abundant yields and to taste the colorful, aromatic, and luscious agricultural produce. "The objective of Research and Development is to bring the academia into the field and to help farmers in the north to be successful and efficient," explained Elkana Ben Yashar, the manager of Northern R & D station.
Ben Yashar chose to place emphasis upon two of the various fascinating and important research projects that he felt constitute significant breakthroughs in their areas. One project dealt with pollination of various varieties of deciduous crops. A table was formulated that is used by farmers throughout the world to determine which varieties are suitable for pollination and which are genetically incompatible. Another outstanding research focused upon increasing yields of avocados by using plant hormones to accelerate growth.
KKL-JNF supports Research and Development stations throughout the country with the objective of encouraging agriculture and settlement in the periphery. Dr. Omri Boneh, Head of KKL-JNF Northern Region and chairman of Northern R & D, added that KKL-JNF works to create knowledge and to offer farmers a relative advantage to help them succeed under difficult conditions. "At the same time KKL-JNF is helping to develop new methods of cultivation by preparing ground and building water reservoirs. Without this, our agriculture cannot stand up to the competition," explained Boneh.
Many of the research projects that were presented dealt with topics relevant to KKL-JNF activities in the areas of water and the environment. Aviram Tzuk, KKL-JNF regional director, cited research projects of particular interest to KKL-JNF that deal with saving water, decreasing the use of polluting pesticides, preventing water pollution by planting vegetation to keep cattle from approaching and contaminating sources of water, and developing environmentally friendly agriculture.
Among the many booths presenting research projects and agricultural produce was a KKL-JNF booth that presented the organization's activities in the areas of forestry, ecology, land development, water, and combating desertification. Nearby was a Hula Lake booth in which KKL-JNF is a major partner that described the contribution of the lake to the flora and fauna, tourism, and to improving the quality of drinking water in the Kinneret.
Yael Shaltieli, KKL-JNF General Manager, visited the KKL-JNF booth and noted that developing the periphery is one of the important objectives of the organization – consequently the importance of developing agriculture. "I was pleased to see how the advisors explained the significance of research projects to farmers and described ways to implement them," said Shaltieli. "This is precisely the objective of KKL-JNF's involvement – advancement that exceeds the limits of the laboratory and influences work in the field."
According to Gershon Avni, head of the Land Development Authority at KKL-JNF, it is not enough to merely establish settlements. It is also essential to ensure that there is a source of livelihood for the residents. Avni explained the practical importance of research: "In agriculture, if you don't advance and modernize all the time, you fall behind your competitors."
Among the distinguished visitors at the open day was Israel's president, Shimon Peres. The President was impressed with the research projects and their results. He took particular interest in the vast variety of mushrooms on display and enjoyed a sweet pear that he was given to taste.
After ending his visit to the open day, President Peres arrived at the opening of the First Agricultural Convention that was held at Kfar Blum commemorating 150 years of agriculture in Israel.
Aharon Valency, head of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, greeted the guests by stating that Israeli farmers designed the panorama of the country. "We chose to live here and we have signed a pact with the land to love and preserve it."
Efi Stenzler, KKL-JNF World Chairman, referred to Valency's remarks and added that agriculture is the main expression of the ties between people and their land. "The added value of agriculture is far beyond its economic value. In a small country such as ours, only progressive, sophisticated farmers have a chance of survival. Research and development are an essential resource just like land and water." Stenzler noted that the water reservoirs that were built by KKL-JNF provide more than half of the water needed for agriculture in the country, and enable agriculture to develop and thrive.
The First session of the convention was headed by Yael Shaltieli, KKL-JNF General Manager and dealt with the directions in the development of agriculture in Israel in the next 20 years. Shaltieli noted that agricultural production has increased by 33% during the past four years. While a farmer in the past provided food for 15 people, today one farmer can feed 120 people.
Shalom Simchon, Minister of Agriculture, spoke about the success story of Israeli agriculture that has earned a reputation throughout the world and is a source of pride for all of us. "We will continue to invest in research in the coming decades and keep Israel at the peak of agriculture," promised Simchon.
, Vice Governor of the Bank of Israel, spoke
about the economic aspects of agriculture in the modern era, and the
General Secretary of the Association of Farmers in Israel, Avshalom
, elaborated about the difficulties that Israeli farmers must
contend with. Later in the day a session took place about the
development of agricultural research in which the general manager of the
Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry's head scientist, the chairman of
Northern Research and Development, the chairman of the Vulcani
Institute, and the Chairman of the Plant Council, took part. .
The First Agricultural Convention ended with a promise that the event
would become a tradition and that the convention would take place each
year. The purpose of the convention will be to make the general public
and decision makers in the country aware of information regarding the
importance of agriculture, its contribution to the country, and
directions of development in the future.
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