On August 27, 1992, Dr Dov Pasternak gave a slide presentation titled "Recent Plant Introductions for Arid Zones" to the San Diego Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers. Dr Pasternak is the head of the Institute for Agriculture and Applied Biology at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. His speciality at the Institute is irrigation with saline water.

Dr Pasternak introduced himself as an old friend of the CRFG. He stated the goal of the institute as: "How to produce new means of production for the farmers of the Negev desert". The Negev desert covers about 60% of Israel and is its major agricultural area. A relatively small desert when compared to major global deserts, it possesses three major microclimates and many in between:

• High mountains - dry summers with freezes every winter.

• Humid - Western Negev by the Mediterranean sea.

• Rift Valley - under sea level, very hot (110°- 120°F) every day in summer; a winter frost no more often than once in 10 years; average yearly rainfall 1½ inches.

The Institute was established in 1957; its original work dealt exclusively with ornamentals and reforestation. Only in the last 5-7 years has its research spread to industrial crops like jojoba, and to fruit trees. Israel's production of agricultural products is geared for export because the country wants a positive agricultural trade balance.

This was Dr Pasternak's second visit to San Diego in four years. He is the Israeli coordinator for two joint agricultural exchange projects with Egypt, both of which are funded by the San Diego State Foundation and AID. Dr Pasternak has also submitted a proposal to UNESCO to start an international program for arid land crops. The idea of this program is to use the know-how developed by the Institute to open three centers in South America, Asia and Africa to introduce arid land crops to these areas to supplement native crops. A program such as this may help to alleviate starvation in third world such as Somalia.

Some of the fruit trees mentioned by Dr Pasternak included the Ber, Ziziphus mauritana, the Marula, Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra, a number of trees from Australia and some from the United States.

Tropical Fruit News, February 1993. Vol.27, No.2

DATE: September 1993

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