The Negev Foundation has partnered with the Ramat Negev
Desert AgroResearch and Business Center (RNDARC) since the
Foundation’s inception 20 years ago.
During that partnership, the Foundation and RNDARC have
established a strategic vision to transform the agricultural
industry in Ramat Negev over the next 15 years, and the projects
described in this chapter are all designed to support plan.
The vision has been divided into two phases.
In Phase I, The Negev Foundation and RNDARC
completed the 2.1 million dollar construction of a new, state of
the art facility to house the research center and the new
Senator George and Janet Voinovich Business Center.
Phase I also included the accomplishment of historic
research projects in the areas of brackish water agriculture,
orchard crops, greenhouse technologies, and adaption of new
crops to the Negev’s arid climate.
The Foundation and RNDARC are now beginning to implement
the projects for Phase II, which are described below.
The activities in Phase II are designed to be completed
over the next 3 years.
Although all of the initiatives are necessary to fulfill
the transformative goals of the campaign, the International
Agricultural Training Center building has been deemed the
highest priority project, followed closely by the additions and
improvements to experimental greenhouse infrastructure.
RNDARC was established over 50 years ago by the late Yoel
Demalach. In the
past half-century, it has been a pioneer in the field of desert
agriculture, and has made important discoveries that have helped
to shape the agricultural community of the Negev and by
extension the region’s entire economy.
All of the research completed at RNDARC is immediately
applied, and topics are chosen to respond directly to feedback
from local farmers.
The results of RNDARC’s experiments are disseminated free of
charge to farmers throughout the jurisdiction of the Ramat Negev
Regional Council, which spans 22% of the land area of Israel,
thus giving them an advantage over their counterparts throughout
the country. The
topics of research at RNDARC are diverse, and include research
in brackish water tolerant crops, altering the growing seasons
of popular exports (to obtain maximum economic by selling them
when supply is low), and adapting foreign crops to make them
suitable for growth in the Negev.
Staff and researchers at RNDARC also collaborate with
universities and other research centers throughout the world,
thereby blending an international knowledge base with local
The Negev Foundation is a Cleveland-based non-profit
organization that is dedicated to developing the Negev Desert
through economic and agricultural development initiatives.
The organization was originally founded by Richard
Bogomolny, Sam Hoenig, and Jack Mandel, and today has grown to
an organization with over 500 annual donors including individual
donors, private foundations, and government sources.
Sam Hoenig, President of The Negev Foundation, was
inspired by Yoel Demalach early in his career, and thus the
foundation has helped support RNDARC’s activities since its
beginning in 1992.
International Agricultural Training Center
RNDARC currently hosts an agricultural training program
for international students.
The program focuses on technologically sophisticated
agricultural practices, and educates approximately 300
international students each year.
Currently, the program operates in rented facilities that
prohibit expansion of enrollment and increase the logistical
difficulties of programmatic operation.
To remedy these obstacles, The Negev Foundation is
partnering with RNDARC to construct a modern building in the
community of Nitzana that will house the training program and
allow for an increase of 66% in student enrollment.
The program caters to students from East Asia, and is
currently comprised of students from Vietnam and Myanmar.
Over 11 months, the students are instructed in both
theoretical and practical methods, combining classroom lessons
with hands-on field training.
There are a surprising number of beneficiaries in
addition to the obvious benefits to the students, including
local farmers, RNDARC, and governments from both countries.
Students benefit from an excellent education, and receive
stipends for their in-field work from farmers that are equal to
competitive market wages in the area.
This money enables them to support a pleasant quality of
life during their studies, while sending money to relatives in
their home countries or saving money for completion of the
also benefit immensely, as they are able to utilize labor that
is motivated, educated, and enthusiastic in the farms’
operations. As the
students initially pay tuition to attend the program, RNDARC is
able to use excess revenue to fund ongoing research after
covering the costs of running the program.
Finally, government officials and society at large
benefits from strengthened cultural and political ties between
Israel and the participatory countries.
Please note that the students’ tuition, which is funded
by the students or sources in their home countries, enables the
training to be self-sustaining.
As a result, no other philanthropic funds will be
required to support this program after the completion of the new
In 2008, The Negev Foundation supported the construction
of a state-of-the-art building to house RNDARC’s facilities.
The research center is the focal point of agricultural
innovation in the area, and conducts applied research that
supports farmers throughout the regional council’s jurisdiction.
The staff of RNDARC pioneered brackish (salty) water
agriculture research, and through the years they have made
discoveries that have truly allowed the Negev Desert to blossom.
This history behind this research and the unique
development of the agricultural industry in the Ramat Negev
Regional Council is fascinating, and is unparalleled in its
innovation and true Zionist spirit.
To honor this, the Ramat Negev Regional Council has
decided to construct a visitors’ center in lobby of the recently
This center will be designed to celebrate achievements of
research and farmers, educate visitors about the remarkable work
that’s conducted by the research center, and ultimately inspire
future generations of pioneers to continue developing the Negev.
The center will have a significant focus on the life and
work of the late Yoel Demalach, the founder of RNDARC, who
inspired the researchers to achieve their amazing results.
To memorialize Yoel, the Ramat Negev Regional Council
Department of Tourism is creating a documentary about his life
and work, which will be shown in the visitors’ center to
complement the displays.
Physical displays in the visitors’ center will be varied,
technologically-advanced, and interactive.
They will include information on the history of the
research center and key staff members, history of the area, a
thorough explanation on the principles and importance of
brackish water agriculture, and more.
Upon completing a tour of the display and viewing the
accompanying documentary, guests will be given a tour of the
fields, where they can see, smell, and taste the amazing produce
that results from RNDARC’s innovation.
Angus Heifer Breeding Program
The goal of this activity is to develop a pure-bred Black
Angus industry in the State of Israel.
Israelis are developing their economy at a fast pace, and
are increasingly desirous of high-quality meats.
Currently 150,000 heads of cattle are imported annually
from Australia and New Zealand to meet this demand, and it would
be substantially preferable if a larger portion of the cattle
were grown within Israel.
Raising the cattle in Israel would have a triple benefit,
offering fresher meat to consumers, increased revenue to Israeli
cattle ranchers, and a herd whose quality can be better
monitored by internal controls.
This program initially involves importing approximately
60 Black Angus heifers from Ohio and raising them at Tene Farm
in the jurisdiction of the Ramat Negev Regional Council.
As the program demonstrates success, it is anticipated
that two more shipments of 60 cattle will be imported to the
farm, producing a critical breeding mass to ensure maximum
heifers will be inseminated with sex-specific semen, thus
allowing for controlled growth of the herd while maintaining
desirable genetic traits.
In addition, the work with sex-specific semen will
produce valuable scientific data that will in turn be analyzed
by researchers at RNDARC.
This project has important implications for both economic
development and scientific advance, and this dynamic approach is
the initiative’s greatest strength.
As the heifers reproduce, there will also be
opportunities for other cattle ranchers in the Negev and
throughout Israel to purchase Angus heifers for their own
breeding and economic development.
The research staff at RNDARC often chooses their research
topics based on the feedback of local farmers, as the ultimate
goal of the research center is to provide innovation that
directly benefits farmers in the Ramat Negev Regional Council’s
research focuses mainly on existing crops grown in arid-land
environments, new greenhouse technologies, domesticating foreign
crops and adapting them for growth in a desert environment, and
research of orchard crops, including pears, grapes (for wine),
and olives (for oil).
As a result of this diverse and evolving research, it is
anticipated that some new equipment or supplies may be needed
throughout the course of the Phase II campaign that cannot be
predicted at this time.
RNDARC also frequently requests textbooks to support the
research of staff and students, which is included in the budget
for research expenses.
The Mandel Campus, which houses RNDARC’s main building
and fields, is in need of infrastructure repair.
The roads that lead from the Campus’ entrance to the main
building require repair and repaving, and are not suitable for
the increased volume of traffic that is expected upon completion
of the visitors’ center.
In addition, the roads will need to be expanded
approximately one meter on either side, allowing for two lanes
of traffic driving in each direction.
This will allow for increased visitor traffic, as well as
an easier arrival for trucks and large farming equipment that
presently does not fit on the narrow road without blocking
traffic in both directions.
Besides the improvements to the main road, substantial
landscaping needs to be done around the main building.
The main campus of the research center requires some
additional equipment and improvements to effectively complete
current and future research projects.
Chief among these necessities are climate controlled
requires two greenhouses that measure one dunam each.
One of these greenhouses must be fully climate
controlled, and the other must be a traditional greenhouse used
for control elements in experimentation.
In addition to the new climate controlled greenhouse, it
is also necessary for RNDARC to upgrade an existing heating
system in a structure measuring three dunams to prevent frost
damage to crops.
While the main building at RNDARC was completed in 2008,
there are still some outdated trailers and storage facilities
that are in need of replacement.
The management envisages a modern facility that will
contain warehouse and office space.
The desired building will be 22,000ft², and is anticipated to house all farm equipment at RNDARC.
This facility will also include new refrigeration and
storage systems, packing equipment and other required equipment
for the research center, used specifically in farming in the
field and greenhouses.
The office space will be rented to provide additional
income to RNDARC that is necessary for execution of research and
maintenance of facilities.
The Negev Foundation is partnering with the OR Movement to
expand the ability of the Ramat Negev communities to attract new
industry to the region. The economic development plan will
include the hiring of a full-time executive staff member to
serve as a liaison between companies that are looking to conduct
business in the Negev and the relevant regional contacts that
are able to affect the infrastructure and economic measures
necessary to support such a move. Furthermore, the program will
assist private companies and individuals to identify suitable
investment opportunities in the Negev. The staff member will
additionally assist individuals who are looking to find work in
the Negev, and the program will host a number of job fairs
throughout the year that specifically showcase jobs available in
the jurisdiction of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and
A dunam is an area of measure commonly used in the
One dunam is equal to 1000m².