Peonies and Pineapples in the Negev Desert .
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Open Day 2016 at the Western Negev Research and Development Station in Besor
If the idea of pineapples in the desert sounds like a total anomaly, a visit to the Western Negev Research and Development Station
in Israel’s Besor region proves quite the opposite. Over 4,000 people from Israel and abroad, including the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Authority and neighboring Arab countries, attended the Open Day Agricultural Exhibition at the R&D station on Wednesday February 24.
Open Day provides an opportunity to showcase the station's research projects, which focus on discovering new species and growing methods that suit the desert soil, water and climate of the western Negev.
Growing pineapples in the desert is just one of the many exciting experiments being conducted at the R&D. Liana Ganot, Plant Protection Coordinator, greeted visitors in a greenhouse where experiments on support systems for tomatoes are being carried out. “We are trying to find ways to save manpower,” Liana said, “because that’s one thing we’re lacking in this region. We’re trying to orchestrate all the different stages of the growing season in order to maximize efficiency and yields.”
And of course there are the peonies, a flower that loves cold and is grown in Holland over the cool months preceding the Dutch summer. Thanks to the R&D, they are now grown in the Western Negev during Israel’s winter, in order to market them in Europe during a time of the year when they are not available. R&D scientists developed various methods of providing the flowers with the degree of cold they are used to, including special growing platforms that allow the farmers to move the flowers to refrigerators for a few hours every day.
With the help of its friends throughout the world, KKL-JNF funds 50% of the budget of Israel's R&D stations. Lior Katri, the director of the Western Negev R&D, said that "with KKL-JNF, we know we're in good hands. KKL-JNF is our anchor. It's not just about financing. KKL-JNF personnel are involved in all our daily work. I talk about KKL-JNF whenever I speak about the Western Negev R&D, and as for the financing, I know that when KKL-JNF commits itself to transferring funds by a certain date, the money will arrive right on time.
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