Planting the seeds of the future in Israel’s Arava desert

In the middle of Israel’s barren Arava, more than an hour’s drive from a major city, a diverse group of over 1,200 university students from Africa and Asia have gathered to learn the latest in agriculture technologies from local farmers.

The courses are offered at The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT) in Sapir, a Jewish National Fund USA project. AICAT is one of many Jewish National Fund projects in the area under the aegis of the organization’s “Blueprint Negev” initiative, which aims to improve the quality of life for all region residents and encourage a population shift away from crowded, expensive central Israel.

On Sunday, the Jewish National Fund led a media tour of the Arava to showcase some of these projects and provide access to the area’s pioneering farmers, who are currently producing some of the highest-quality produce in the world, both for domestic consumption and export.

The AICAT students introduced to the group were from countries including Kenya, Cape Verde, Cambodia, Thailand, and Gambia, and even nations that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The governments of those countries apparently realize the importance of these young future farmers being able to share what they have learned from the program.

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