BGU to open research facility in India, collaborate on desert agriculture

The joint academic initiative will allow Indian students to enrol into advanced degrees at BGU without leaving their country.

BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz (photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz
(photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BGU)
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheba has announced that it will collaborate with the Indian company ABAN and establish an agricultural research facility in Chennai, India, that will offer Indian students the opportunity to enroll into BGU courses. 
ABAN is India's largest offshore drilling entity, but it invests a lot of resources in environmental protection and development. The company was looking to train agricultural experts and while looking for partners with the relevant knowledge and expertise, the connection with BGU researchers was made and the project was underway. 
Specifically, the BGU's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, specializing in environmental science, desert agriculture, managing water resources, environmental physics and more, will team up with ABAN representatives in order to bring the ambitious project to life.   
While ABAN will be in charge of erecting the campus, BGU researchers will determine the curriculum and academic standards of the new institute. 
The new institute's research will entirely be conducted by students, with supervision from BGU researchers. The project will include an exchange program and ABAN will send students and lecturers to Israel for further training. The joint academic initiative will also allow Indian students to travel to Israel and enroll into advanced degrees at BGU.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between BGU and ABAN was signed in a virtual ceremony earlier this month. 
BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz welcomed the new collaboration and expressed his intention to continue to share BGU's scientific knowledge and foster similar projects in the future. 
"As part of the international scientific community, it's our duty to share our scientific research and data for the benefit of the global population. We've been studying the field of desert agriculture from different perspectives for over 50 years. We're proud to be leading the cutting edge studies in these fields," Chamovitz said. 
"As a research branch of BGU, the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research will lead and establish the agricultural institute in India," he added. 
The project is the result of nearly two years of intensive work led by Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel, vice of global engagement at BGU, and included a visit to India by Prof. Noam Weisbrod, head of the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, who examined firsthand the plans for the new center and met the involved parties from India. 
"A new generation of [Indian] local researchers will receive the tools to deal with some of the most pressing issues in the modern world, like: the need of modern and effective agriculture methods for improving food production and technological innovations for increasing the volume of available water and their quality, while providing environmental solutions," Weisbrod noted, adding that these issue become increasingly relevant in light of the rapid global changes that the entire world is experiencing.