How does 25% of the land of Israel change the world?
The Arava region in the Negev desert is perhaps the best example of a resilient community in a hyper-arid environment. Located in the south of Israel, it has temperatures reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, with less than an inch of rain during the year. Though it represents 25% of the land of Israel, it is home to a mere 9,000 residents. For the past 50 years, under these challenging conditions, its residents have managed to build a modern, vibrant community with an economy based on agriculture, solar energy, water recycling, research, and academic programs. The research and technology developed in the region provide the groundwork on which to develop solutions to global issues.
The Arava Valley is home to many important academic and research institutions including the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT), the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, research and development stations, and more. These institutions find solutions for the challenges that the residents of the region confront and export their knowledge to other countries. The potential for increased information sharing is great.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is recognized as one of the leaders in the world for water, energy, and food research.
Its focal areas include research related to broad aspects of arid lands including the natural environment and agriculture. In water research it has been ranked as the best in the world by the Shanghai Ranking. Water sustainability is a critical natural resource concern in Arizona and the western United States. The University of Arizona is in the forefront of addressing that concern as a member of the International Arid Land’s Consortium (IALC), along with Jewish National Fund-USA and seven other institutions from around the world. The IALC works to reduce desertification and implement sustainable agricultural practices and natural resource management to transform arid and semi-arid regions for agriculture and habitation.
UA’s College of Agriculture is a leader in precision agriculture, which aims at using the least amount of water and pesticides in crops. Further, the controlled agricultural programs using greenhouses or vertical farms are extraordinary. The icon and laboratory of many of these programs is Biosphere 2, a unique platform for research in sustainability, including the role of the microbiome in agriculture.
It is evident that the work in the Arava and at the University of Arizona are focused on the same issues with different tools. Combining our programs will enhance the wellbeing of many communities in semi-arid environments.
Jewish National Fund-USA
Jewish National Fund-USA’s strategic vision has been and always will be, to ensure a strong, secure, and prosperous future for the land and people of Israel.
Since its establishment in 1901, JNF plants trees, builds houses and parks, sources water solutions, boosts tourism, supports Aliyah, and funds agricultural research. Each project, each program, each partnership, is consistent with JNF’s strategic vision – population growth in the north and south, infrastructure development, ecology, forestation and more — all for the land and people of Israel.
As part of its Blueprint Negev initiative, JNF-USA is working to develop the Arava and to encourage new families to move to the area. The JNF-USA Kasser Joint Institute for Food, Water and Energy Security will promote the area, create more job opportunities, and improve quality of life in the region.