Israeli, US researchers to get $7.3 million for joint agriculture projects

The 22 research grants aim to boost economy and agricultural communities in Israel and the US and foster long-term collaborations, binational BARD fund says

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Cherry tomatoes being grown in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council. (Courtesy)
Cherry tomatoes being grown in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council. (Courtesy)

A joint US-Israeli agricultural research and development fund has approved grants of $7.3 million for 22 research projects done jointly by Israeli and US researchers.

The 2020 research grants will go to 20 US and nine Israeli institutions, and the projects approved are in a wide range of fields including agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal production, animal health, crop health and production, water and renewable resources, and food production, BARD-the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, said in a statement on Sunday.

This year, BARD will also grant ten postdoctoral fellowships, four BARD senior research fellowships supporting American scientists who will conduct research in Israel, and two joint US-Israel workshops, the statement said.

Fifty percent of the research grant recipients are early career scientists. They get an opportunity to work side-by-side with leading, experienced scientists, “thus acquiring a crucial body of knowledge and expertise,” the statement said.

“This year we are facing many challenges as the coronavirus pandemic poses a threat to food security all over the world,” said Yoram Kapulnik, BARD’s executive director. “The Ag research and development community has been influenced by this crisis yet the great minds in research and development will also be the ones to lead us safely towards finding new solutions and coping with the various challenges that have arisen. The wide array of research proposals approved is a testament to the excellent and innovative agriculture research communities both in the US and in Israel.”

Among the projects approved for the grants are a project studying Beta-glucans as growth promoters and antibiotic alternatives in poultry; the development of salmonella sensing-based antibacterials for use in poultry; and the use of in-vitro embryo production and gene editing to study embryology in sheep.

Over the past 40 years BARD has funded more than 1,330 research projects with a total investment of $315 million. This research has led to some 200 new agricultural practices, 40 commercial deals, and 100 patent-series and breeding rights licenses, the statement said. The joint projects have helped both the Israeli and US economies and agricultural communities, as well as the continued collaboration among scientists in Israel and the US even after the projects are over, the statement said.

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