In 1996 KKL-JNF took upon itself the overall responsibility for running agricultural research and development institutes and providing significant budgetary support for their ongoing operation.
By committing to the operation and financial support of the research and development institutes KKL acted in accordance with its long-standing policy of emphasizing help to peripheral regions as a national aim of the first priority. This policy is founded on the covenant between the JNF and the State of Israel, signed in 1961, which received renewed expression in the definition of KKL aims as written in the 1999 annual report. In accepting the challenge of the R&D institutes KKL assumed not only the responsibility, but also the honor of becoming a partner in the many successes of agricultural research in Israel. In the past two years, KKL-JNF has deepened its active involvement in the regional R&Ds, and its representatives have become involved in all levels of administration, control, supervision and direction. In the year 2000, the managerial responsibility of KKL-JNF embraced ten agricultural R&D institutes, and its financial support reached the sum of $5,000,000.
The Fruits of KKL-JNF Research. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
These establishments serve all farmers, in the knowledge that the individual farmer cannot undertake research or development, since his living depends on his day-to-day work in direct farming. The R&D establishments operate independently, within the framework of the Regional Councils or of companies associated with the Councils. Each has a public Board, a Professional Committee, a Scientific Director and an Executive Director.
Main characteristics of R&D activities conducted by KKL-JNF research stations:
- Development of intensive and innovative agriculture in hothouses, or in fields, where crops are adapted to the specific conditions of the region, to ensure continued settlement in the periphery.
- Most of the products of this development are intended for export or to replace imports, so as to provide a respectable living for the growers.
- Research programs are project oriented, planned for completion within 3 – 5 years.
- There is a direct link between the R&D establishment and the Agricultural Research Administration, the Faculty of Agriculture, the Technion, applied research institutes and government extension services for various topics.
- A national steering committee supervises the activities of the establishments.
- Research subjects and quality are monitored by teams from the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Agriculture and the national committees for each specific topic. A professional progress report on each project is submitted yearly.
- Successful research is first applied in model farms, and later in commercial farms.
A few examples that have already been put into practical application are: the use of hothouses for the intensive cultivation of bell peppers in winter; increasing the yield of strawberries by advanced production techniques; development of tomato varieties with varied shapes, colors and tastes; netting against insects and other pests; irrigation and pest control; development of aquaculture in brackish water in the Negev; establishment of new branches such as ornamental fish, ostrich breeding and many more areas of activities which derive from the local geographical conditions of each station.
KKL-JNF has defined the following objectives for research and development stations:
- To increase the profitability and stability of agriculture by improving existing crops and introducing new ones.
- To identify crops available for immediate development, with a view to raising regional employment opportunities and expanding existing communities.
- To encourage development of new techniques, their implementation into existing products and to provide training during the implementation period.
KKL-JNF is involved in a number research and development projects focusing on a variety of themes:
- Improving existing crops and introducing new ones.
- Developing new agricultural technologies and supervising their implementation.
- Use of biofilters in fishponds that allow the water to be recycled and reused.
- Reducing the use of pesticides to improve the environmental situation in the country and to enable Israel to fulfill its part in international agreements banning the use of certain pesticides.
- Using recycled wastewater in irrigation and developing methods for monitoring soil quality following extensive use of these irrigation methods.