U.S. and Israeli Officials
Acknowledge Outstanding Research Projects
External evaluation showed an excellent return on investment rate
16 dollars gained from every 1 dollar invested through the program
At the culmination of 40 years of activity, the BARD (U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund) Board of Directors appointed a steering committee to oversee an external review that would assess past and present impacts on binational American- Israeli agricultural research. The BARD 40-year review research impact assessment process came to its end right before the Covid-19 outbreak. To mark the completion of this process, a celebratory online session took place Tuesday November 10th. At this event the main results of the review were presented, and outstanding research projects were acknowledged, highlighting the important role of U.S.-Israel Agricultural R&D partnership fostered by BARD.
Several high-ranking key officials attended this session including Mr. Alon Schuster, Israeli Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Dr. Scott Hutchins, Deputy Under Secretary, USDA Research, Education, and Economics Mission, the honorable Mr. David M. Friedman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator, ARS & Acting USDA Chief Scientist.
Out of the twenty case studies analyzed as part of the 40-year review research impact assessment, the review committee deliberated and chose to recognize nine projects that were especially groundbreaking, having outstanding impact within three different categories, including impact to society & environment, economy, and innovation. These projects demonstrate the remarkable progress in bilateral agricultural R&D over the past four decades. They also show the tremendous potential for further expansion, and for deepening policy coordination and cooperation across a broad range of agriculture, food, and nutrition-related topics.
Alon Schuster, Israeli Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development: "We have the pressing responsibility to ensure food security. We must do our best to promise the availability and the access to food any time at an affordable price. At the same time, we must increase food safety and avoid food waste. These are big challenges especially under the Israeli semi-arid conditions. BARD’s success is a testament to the importance of the U.S.-Israel partnership. This partnership benefits contemporary agricultural practice and lays the foundation for the agricultural needs of generations to come”.
David M. Friedman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Congratulated BARD and the event attendees and added: “As confirmed in the 40-year review research impact assessment BARD continues to be a tremendous success. What will be our agricultural needs five ten, and even 50 years down the road? How will we feed our nations? We are counting on our scientists and on programs like BARD to spot the trends and sow the seeds of progress”.
Prof. Yoram Kapulnik, Executive Director of BARD, said: “We match and support highly skilled researchers from the U.S. and Israel, who work together on agricultural research projects. This collaboration promotes excellent science. Our impact is evident, and the results of the review are outstanding. The 40-year review showed us the impressive social, environmental and economic impact our programs have. Every dollar invested by BARD gained as least 16 in return. I am proud and honored to showcase the success of our programs. Scientific innovation, academic excellence, human capacity, and foresight are the building blocks of the long-term resilience of a nation’s economy and society. BARD-funded science creates jobs, builds academic reserves, and ensures the robust and sustainable agricultural industries needed for enduring national wellbeing (both in Israel and in the U.S.). If only we could adjust the BARD endowment so that it would maintain its original purchasing power, and it would reach the level of 40 years ago, then the sky would be the limit”.
List of research projects acknowledged
SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
1. Power wheat: Genes for improvement of modern wheat.
This is a collaboration between the University of California and Haifa University.
The main aim here was to identify genes (from wild emmer wheat) that could be transferred (introgressed) to commercial wheat varieties and thereby increase the nutritional properties and resistance to disease. The outcome of this project resulted in breeding programs that led to high protein wheat varieties and disease-resistant varieties, without loss of yield. These varieties are shared world-wide. These qualities have, no doubt, contributed tremendously to society & the environment by adding nutritional value to an essential commodity as well as protecting the environment by reducing chemical treatments to crops. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $118 million.
2. Tilapia Lake Virus: A threat to the global Tilapia industry
A collaboration between Columbia University & Tel Aviv University.
The project aimed at identifying the unknown causal agent of a disease in Tilapia fish causing mortality. The project successfully characterized a new virus, Tilapia Lake Virus, as the disease agent and identified a successful diagnostic assay for detection of the disease. This project concerns food security of millions of people dependent on Tilapia farming in developing countries. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $38 million.
3. Trichoderma: A potent fungus as biological control agent
A collaboration between Cornell University & the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The project concerns the control of pathogenic fungi in field crops by the use of an endophytic fungus, Trichoderma. Trichoderma induces multiple benefits to plants such as root growth promotion, resistance to abiotic stress and increased nitrogen use efficacy. The project outcomes were the successful establishment of commercial companies producing Trichoderma for biological control of root diseases in greenhouse and vegetable crops. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $647 million.
1. Full Life-Cycle Hatchery-based aquaculture
This is a collaboration between Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brooklyn College, Israel Oceanographic Research Institute & the Weizmann Institute of Science. The aim of this project was to establish tools to control fish reproductive processes in captivity by artificial induction of maturation and spawning in farmed fish. The project successfully provided the global aquaculture industry with a tool to induce fish to spawn in captivity enabling the rapid development of novel fish farming. This technique is also applied for gene rescue and population amplification of threatened and endangered species, contributing also to an impact on society and the environment. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $12 Billion.
2. BRIX Quantitative Trait Loci for Processing Tomatoes
This is a collaborative project between Cornell University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The aim was to discover traits in wild tomatoes that are associated with soluble solid content and can be transferred to commercial processing cultivars, thus enabling a higher utilization of the tomato for tomato-paste production. This pioneer research has led to successful commercial cultivars enhanced by a single trait of wild tomato whilst maintaining the cultivar’s vigor. The techniques discovered here have been adopted to numerous plant species for introducing desirable traits in breeding programs. This project is exemplary in its demonstration of phenomenal synergy between the US and Israeli partners. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $261 million.
3. Genetic improvement of economic traits in dairy cattle:
This collaborative project is between the ARO, Volcani Center, the University of Illinois, the USDA-ARS and the University of Georgia. The aim was to identify genetic markers that affect traits of economic importance in dairy cattle such as milk quality, and to introduce this genetic information into cattle breeding selection programs. The outcomes of this project include increased rates of genetic improvements over 30 major traits included in dairy cattle selection. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $1.135 Billion.
PIONEERING & PROMISING PROJECTS:
1. Integrated robotic system for stress detection in greenhouses
A collaborative project between Purdue University, the University of Maryland & the ARO, Volcani Center. The aim was to develop a robotic system for early detection of stresses in the greenhouse environment. The outcome was the determination of narrow spectral bands to identify crop disease and the development of a robotic system to replace manual detection of several crop diseases. This is an exceptionally promising project and ongoing.
2. GOSSYM Cotton model
A collaboration between the Hebrew University and the USDA-ARS. This project aimed at evaluating effects of drought stress on photosynthesis in cotton and to incorporate this information into a dynamic simulation model to aid in cotton crop irrigation management. The GOSSYM model was used successfully in commercial farms in 1984 until 2008 as a decision support system. This project was, at that time a cutting edge & pioneering project. Today, the model is used for testing hypotheses and providing policy makers with economic and policy decisions by assessing yields, prediction of effects of climate change, and more. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $813 million.
3. Improved feed efficiency in chickens
This is a collaboration between the USDA-ARS & the ARO, Volcani Center. The aim was to develop a model to determine the optimal daily feed intake so as to improve feed efficiency and broiler production. The outcome was the development of an economically optimal feeding regime using an algorithm named CHICKOPT. This model has been incorporated into a commercial software package and is implemented in over 130 countries. Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is estimated at $788 million.