Navajo president, first lady visit Israel on agricultural tech mission

The head of the US’s largest Native American tribe is interested in seeing advances that can help farmers

JTA — Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and his wife, Martha, are in Israel for a week to learn about issues ranging from agriculture to tourism.

“We set on this mission to look at how Israel has advanced in growth in some of the same areas we face on the Navajo Nation,” Shelly said in a statement upon his arrival in Israel on December 8.

Deswood Tome, an adviser to Shelly, told the Mesa, Arizona-based Navajo Post that the trip was funded by “Navajo-faith based organizations with non-governmental ties” to draw inspiration from Israeli methods in agriculture technology, tourism, capital infrastructure and offering government services to rural areas.

The Navajo Post also reported that Shelly will visit the Gaza Strip and will invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the Navajo Nation.

In 1986, Ron Scherzer, an agronomist on leave from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, helped Navajo farmers adapt Israeli drip irrigation methods for use on their own land though the Seventh Generation Fund’s Navajo/Israeli Intensive Crop Production Project. The project, which received funding from the Jewish Funds for Justice, reportedly increased crop yields and has brought the Navajos new income and increased self-sufficiency.

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