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NIFA Signs Pact to Promote and Support U.S.-Israeli Agricultural R&D

NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, right, and Edo Chalutz, executive director of the U.S.–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 22.  The MOU promotes, supports and expands the robust agricultural research and development on-going between the two countries.  (Photo by Julia Lewis)

NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, right, and Edo Chalutz, executive director of the U.S.–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 22. The MOU promotes, supports and expands the robust agricultural research and development on-going between the two countries. (Photo by Julia Lewis)

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

On November 22, the United States and Israel came one step closer to renewing agricultural research and development activities that could produce new knowledge and innovations beneficial to both countries and increase the economic bottom line for farmers and ranchers.

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Edo Chalutz, executive director of the U.S.–Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to promote collaboration via NIFA among U.S. and Israeli scientists and engineers. BARD and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s intramural research agency, have cooperated on research together since BARD’s inception.

While the MOU does not obligate either agency to specific funding, it offers the framework for facilitating collaborations through the partnership that BARD and the U.S. government have shared since 1977.

“The United States and Israel have a shared stake in dryland agriculture, high-value horticultural crops, and pest management. There should be ample opportunity for American and Israeli scientists to jointly continue to advance these and other important areas of science,” Ramaswamy said.

One example of cooperation between the nations is water and soil management. Efficiency in water use is of particular interest since the Israelis have worked for years in to develop drip irrigation and have grappled with issues of soil salinity. Many U.S. scientists are conducting similar research, so this may be an area where the MOU could strengthen or begin new collaborative efforts.

“This agreement will facilitate many mutual benefits, and we look forward to getting started,” Ramaswamy said. “In fact, we plan to use this MOU as a model for building other important global partnerships.”

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education, and Cooperative Extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.

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