UC and Israel Sign Agricultural Research Agreement

California and Israel Face Similar Challenges

By Pam Kan-Rice, UC ANR News
From left, Ermias Kebreab, Eli Feinerman, and Mark Bell sign the agreement for Israel and California scientists to collaborate more on water-related research and education.

Pledging to work together to solve water scarcity issues, Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis recently. The signing ceremony kicked off the 2018 Future of Water for Irrigation in California and Israel Workshop at the UC ANR building in Davis.

“Israel and California agriculture face similar challenges, including drought and climate change,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR’s California Institute for Water Resources. “In the memorandum of understanding, Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization, UC Davis and UC ANR pledge to work together more on research involving water, irrigation, technology and related topics that are important to both water-deficit countries.”

The agreement will enhance collaboration on research and extension for natural resources management in agriculture, with an emphasis on soil, irrigation and water resources, horticulture, food security and food safety.

“It’s a huge pleasure for us to sign an MOU with the world leaders in agricultural research like UC Davis and UC ANR,” said Eli Feinerman, director of Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. “When good people, smart people collaborate, the sky is the limit.”

Feinerman, Mark Bell (UC ANR vice provost) and Ermias Kebreab (UC Davis professor and associate vice provost of academic programs and global affairs) represented their respective institutions for the signing. Karen Ross (California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary) and Shlomi Kofman (Israel’s consul general to the Pacific Northwest) joined in celebrating the partnership.

“The important thing is to keep working together and develop additional frameworks that can bring the people of California and Israel together as researchers,” Kofman said. “But also to work together to make the world a better place.”

Ross said, “It’s so important for us to find ways and create forums to work together because water is the issue in this century and will continue to be.”

She explained that earlier this year, the World Bank and United Nations reported that 40 percent of the world population is living with water scarcity. 

“Over 700,000 people are at risk of relocation due to water scarcity,” Ross said. “We’re already seeing the refugee issues that are starting to happen because of drought, food insecurity and the lack of water.”

Ross touted the progress stemming from CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program to promote healthy soils on California’s farmlands and ranchlands and SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which has provided California farmers $62.7 million in grants for irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on agricultural operations.

“We need the answers of best practices that come from academia, through demonstration projects so that our farmers know what will really work,” Ross said.

As Parker opened the water workshop, sponsored by the U.S./Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Program, Israel Agricultural Research Organization and UC ANR, he told the scientists, “The goal of this workshop is really to be creating new partnerships, meeting new people, networking and finding ways to work together in California with Israel, in Israel, with other parts of the world as well.”

Drawing on current events, Bell told the attendees, “If you look at the World Cup, it’s about effort, it’s about teamwork, it’s about diversity of skills, and I think that’s what this event does. It brings together those things.”

Fresno State Helps Hungry Students

Fresno State Program Helps Hungry Students

By Brian German, Associate Editor


California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) recently began a multi-initiative program to support students who are struggling with food insecurity. Jessica Medina, coordinator of the “Food Security Project” at Fresno State, said, “The project has five initiatives: an on-campus food pantry, education and resources, an app titled, “Catered Cupboard,” that shows students where on campus they can receive free food, complimentary meals at the university dining hall and the Good Samaritan Fund,” she explained.

Medina said the on-campus food and hygiene pantry, named, “Student Cupboard,” provides students with access to free food and hygiene on a daily basis. We also provide them with education—how to cook those things, how to budget, how to make sure they can afford different things as a student, and connections to resources such as CalFresh, the WIC program and other agencies in the community they can benefit from. We offer emergency funding if they ever need things, as well as lots of other initiatives that access fresh nutritious food,” she noted.

Medina said Fresno State is also a member of the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), a professional organization of campus-based programs focused on alleviating food insecurity, hunger, and poverty among college and university students in the United States. As of TODAY, there are 257 active member institutions of CUFBA.

Medina said such CUFBA members are growing in numbers. “We are starting to pop up on other campuses,” she stated, “and we are excited the chancellor of the CSU system, Chancellor White is going to be supporting a conference to have these conversations and create a model for other institutions for the future.”

Medina said students who go hungry are less likely to do well in their studies, “There are a lot of studies on what students are like in the elementary classrooms, but [food insecurity] continues on to college and beyond as well. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, when you don’t have that food access available to you, it is hard to concentrate. It is hard to focus. It is hard to be successful as a student. And that is what this program isa ‘student success’ program for our students.”

Hired as a fulltime employee by Fresno State to coordinate this, Medina commented, “I think we are one of the first campuses to create a full-time position to coordinate this effort. I graduated from Fresno State with both my undergraduate and master’s, and I am very fortunate to continue on here and be a part of this.”





California State University, Fresno

Catered Cupboard

College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA)

Food Security Project

Food Security Project Resources

Good Samaritan Fund

Students Covered

WIC program