About OIAI

In 2002, The Negev Foundation launched Ohio-Israel Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative. With the help of Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, The Negev Foundation brought together government, academic and business entities, trade associations and growers to improve agricultural trade and R&D ties between Ohio and Israel. The Ohio Israel Agriculture and Rural Development Initiative is a full scale, first-of-its-kind enterprise, vital and growing on fronts that could not have been foreseen at its inception. The results to date have been very gratifying, but there is still more to do.

The Negev Foundation undertook a background study to prepare the groundwork for the Initiative. We identified: (1) what growers, researchers and related industries in each region want and need, (2) where cooperative efforts can best help address those needs and (3) where cooperative efforts can help to address those needs, and (4) how to fund projects for the mutual benefit of all and the greatest impact of each dollar spent.

The initiative’s core purpose is to develop spin-off projects that can largely take on a life (and funding) of their own. These projects, The Negev Foundation has found, support and strengthen Ohio's long-standing agricultural tradition as well as the incredibly vibrant high-tech agriculture prospering in Israel.

  • Promote agricultural cooperation between Ohio and Israel through their governments, farmers, research institutions, trade associations and private companies
  • Generate commercial exchanges and markets
  • Identify potential agribusiness opportunities for development in both regions
  • Identify and coordinate joint research and international development projects

Through this Initiative, The Negev Foundation is aiding not only agricultural leaders on its home turf, Ohio, but also insuring the viability of the southern desert region of Israel, the Negev, which is poised to become the agricultural backbone of the Israeli nation. Together, we make the desert bloom. For more on this aspect of The Negev Foundation, please see the Mission section of this website. As the Ohio-Israel Agriculture Initiative expands, The Negev Foundation continues to identify new opportunities and programs for development.

What do Ohio and Israel share?

The Spirit of Land in Ohio and Israel

Ohio has a rich agricultural tradition and history. For over two hundred years, Ohio has depended on its farms to provide jobs, economic growth, access to an international market, and a foundation on which to build other industries. Ohio’s food and agriculture sectors employ one out of every six people in the state (16%) and generate over $70 billion annually. With a growing and competitive market, Ohio needs to utilize every agricultural resource that becomes available.

As with Ohio, agriculture remains one of Israel’s most important industries. Israel currently grows and produces 85% of its own food, and exports 65% of its agricultural output, more than offsetting the 15% it imports. Israel also exports many agricultural technologies and other agricultural inputs.

Israel has its own agricultural challenges. By 2010, Israel’s available freshwater supplies are anticipated to decline by over 50%, at the same time the population is projected to nearly double from 6 to 10 million. Sixty-five percent of the fresh water currently used for agriculture will not be available. Drip-irrigation and brackish water technologies are innovations that originated in Israel's Negev desert region to address future water and land problems. The development of crops that consume less water is vital to the country’s agricultural sector and to Israel’s future.

Israel and Ohio stand to prosper from the new technological access, international marketing and agribusiness development of the Initiative. The Negev Foundation is dedicated to produce agriculture partnerships to benefit both regions economically, and to advance the innovative, practical application of agriculture technologies.

The Agricultural Scientists of Ohio and Israel

Both Ohio and Israel are home to world-class academic and government agricultural research institutions. The Hebrew University and Ohio State University are already frequent partners in the Initiative projects.

A world leader in agricultural research and development, Ohio State University's School of Agriculture offers The Negev Foundation access to state of the art technology and acclaimed experts in the field of agriculture. Local and state agricultural departments are dispersed throughout the state and also assist Negev's international efforts. back to top

The Negev Foundation completed a preliminary background study of the needs and opportunities in both regions, and the practicability of an Ohio-Israel Agriculture Initiative. After this first look, we expanded into specific project areas. The dynamic nature of the Initiative requires Negev to constantly evaluate new opportunities for cooperation as well as funding, based on the needs and opportunities of both regions. The Negev Foundation continually seeks new openings for discussions with interested parties.

A bi-national steering committee oversees the Initiative. The Negev Foundation brought together growers, government, academia and extension, business, and trade associations, to aid the Initiative's growth and identify new directions. As the Ohio-Israel Agriculture Initiative matures and expands, the need for outside advice has grown. Committee responsibilities include overall direction and oversight of specific joint R&D and trade activities.