Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center

Coordinates: 31°59′25″N 34°49′2.84″E / 31.99028°N 34.8174556°E / 31.99028; 34.8174556
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Agricultural Research Organization
Volcani Center
FoundedBen Shemen, Israel (1921 (1921))
FounderYitzhak Elazari Volcani
Derekh Ha-Makkabim 68, Rishon LeZion
Number of locations
ServicesAgricultural research

The Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center (Hebrew: מנהל המחקר החקלאי - מרכז וולקני), previously known as the Agricultural Research Station of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, is an Israeli agricultural research center. It serves as the research arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the State of Israel and provides research opportunities for local and international scientists at post-graduate levels, as well as educational opportunities for Israeli and international youths, farmers and scientists. The organization supports Israeli agriculture research, focusing on plant sciences, animal sciences, plant protection, soil and environmental sciences, food sciences, and agricultural engineering. The organization was founded in 1921 in Ben Shemen, Israel, by Yitzhak Elazari Volcani, for whom it is named.

Israeli stamp celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Volcani Center, 1971


During 1921, in the village of Ben Shemen, the Jewish Agency established the Agricultural Experiment Station under the leadership of Yitzhak Elazari Volcani.[1][2] It was the first scientific institute in the British Mandate of Palestine.[3] The station was established in response to a proposal by Chaim Weizmann and Arthur Ruppin, who recognized the need to advance agriculture in Israel.[4] In 1932, the station was moved to Rehovot. In 1951, its control was transferred to the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture (Israel having been created in 1948), and the station was renamed the Agricultural Research Station (ARS). When Yitzhak Volcani died in 1951, after a directorship of thirty years, the organization was renamed the Volcani Center in his honor. In the 1950s, the station was relocated to its present campus in Rishon LeZion, and in 1971, the ARS became part of the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.[1][2]

Focus of research[edit]

Israel is a country with limited water resources. Its climate ranges from Mediterranean in the north to semi-arid and arid in the south. Due to these factors, research by the ARO has focused on:

  • Agriculture under arid conditions and on marginal soils
  • Irrigation using recycled wastewater and saline water
  • Crop cultivation in protected environments
  • Freshwater aquaculture under conditions of water shortage
  • Minimization of produce losses through pest control and post-harvest storage methods
  • Seed banking
  • Breeding and development of new strains of crops and domestic animals better suited to adverse conditions[3][5]

On July 24, 2017, UNESCO announced the ARO as one of the laureates of the UNESCO–Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences for 2017, stating "The institute has successfully developed cutting-edge innovations and methodologies in agricultural research with practical applications as well as capacity building programmes to promote food security in arid, semi-arid and desert environments, advancing human well-being."[6]


The Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) has six institutes at three regional campuses (Rishon LeZion, Newe Ya'ar, and Gilat). The institutes include Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, Plant Protection, Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences, Postharvest and Food Sciences, and Agricultural Engineering.[3][7] There is a seed laboratory for testing seed quality for local use and for export,[8] and a plant gene bank to collect, preserve, and evaluate plant species indigenous to Israel, including landraces and primitive cultivars.[9] Kidum, a unit of the ARO, manages the commercialization of the organization's intellectual property, technology transfer, and the establishment of partnerships, joint ventures, and business enterprises.[10]

Centers of excellence[edit]

Gilat Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Agricultural Research: In 2015, the ARO inaugurated the Gilat Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Agricultural Research, the focus of which is developing solutions for immediate and future crises such as climate change, water quality and availability, desertification and soil degradation.[11]

Center of Excellence for Agro-nanotechnology: This multidisciplinary center, started in 2017, aims to address challenges in the field of food and agriculture through the development and implementation of advanced materials and nanotechnologies, such as edible coatings to prolong storability and enhance food quality, advanced delivery systems for active agents for plant and food protection, nanostructured optical biosensors, and contact-active antimicrobial materials to prevent food-cross contamination and biofilm formation.

Sustainable Model Farm: In 2018, a model farm at the Newe Ya'ar regional campus, aiming to test, develop and demonstrate sustainable agriculture practices, was inaugurated. The model farm's main principles are minimum external inputs, zero waste, soil conservation, animal welfare and coexistence of human and natural ecosystems along with profitability.[12]


The Agricultural Research Organization collaborates with other government-sponsored researchers, related industry bodies, educational institutions, farmers, and international organizations and scientists.[13][14][15] The ARO's funding is from the Israeli government, farmers' organizations, and the private sector, as well as the US and the European Union.[5][7][15] Investment is encouraged through the application of intellectual property rights. Private sector investment stems from companies in related industries, such as manufacturers of pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, plastics, irrigation equipment, and greenhouses.[16][17][18][19]


The Agricultural Research Organization trains students in basic and applied agricultural research methodology and practice. Masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students may complete their studies through the ARO's collaboration with universities, including The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Bar-Ilan University; Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Technion – Israel Institute of Technology; Tel Aviv University; University of Haifa; and Ariel University.[20][21] The ARO hosts visiting scientists and post-doctoral fellows from Israel and abroad. The organization has a post-doctoral fellowship program for up to 40 candidates from India and China.[22]

In collaboration with Israel's Agency for International Development and Cooperation, research staff are involved in providing courses to scholars from developing countries, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[23][24] The Volcani Center also hosts courses for farmers from Gaza and the West Bank.[25]

In 1973, a science-oriented youth unit was founded in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Education. Junior and high school students may participate in activities including day-long study and enrichment sessions; special research projects and high school assignments in biology, agriculture, and the environmental sciences; science-oriented summer camps; and projects for the benefit of disadvantaged communities.[26]

In 2006, the unit initiated a therapeutic agricultural project for the education and rehabilitation of youth at risk, The Organic Gardening and Marketing Program. The treatment program offers boys and girls an opportunity to study and work in organic gardening and marketing.[26][27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Katz, Shaul and Ben-David, Joseph "Scientific research and agricultural innovation in Israel." Minerva 1 June 1975 13(2) p. 152 - 182. doi:10.1007/BF01097793 Accessed 27 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Horowitz, Menashe "History of agricultural research in Israel." Accessed 26 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Loebenstein, Gad; Putievsky, Eliyahu and Thotapilly G. (ed.) "Agricultural research management. Chapter 18, Agricultural research in Israel." Springer 2007 p. 357 - 365. ISBN 978-1-4020-6056-4
  4. ^ "ARO Heritage." Accessed 3 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Coordination of agricultural research in the Mediterranean area - ARIMNET - Israel." Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 April 2014.
  6. ^ "UNESCO announces winners of 2017 International Research in the Life Sciences Prize." Accessed 25 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b "European Commission Standing Committee on Agricultural Research - SCAR - National research systems, Israel." European Commission. Accessed 1 April 2014.
  8. ^ "The Official seed testing laboratory." Accessed 1 April 2014.
  9. ^ "The Israel plant gene bank." Archived 2014-02-27 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 April 2014
  10. ^ "Kidum – R&D applications and technology transfer." Accessed 1 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Gilat Center." Accessed 3 December 2015.
  12. ^ "החלטה מספר 3660 של הממשלה מיום 11.03.2018." Accessed 27 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Israel-India cooperation in agriculture." Accessed 1 April 2014.
  14. ^ "Korea, Israel cooperation on agriculture technology." Accessed 1 April 2014
  15. ^ a b "New USDA Israel research agreement to focus on food security sustainability." 1 April 2014.
  16. ^ "2-D climate control specially designed for growing the Middle East heat." Accessed 1 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Agricultural Research Organization." Archived 2014-04-06 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Top 9 Israeli fruits and vegetables color world markets." Accessed 1 April 2014.
  19. ^ "Icaros and Volcani Institute develop agricultural techniques for Israel." Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 1 April 2014.
  20. ^ "Ariel home webpage" 29 April 2013. Accessed 26 March 2014.
  21. ^ "Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, HUJI." 31 May 2012. Accessed 26 March 2014.
  22. ^ "Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Ph.D. graduates from institutes in India and China." Accessed 31 March 2014.
  23. ^ "International R & D courses - ARO." Accessed 26 March 2014.
  24. ^ "Cinadco." Accessed 26 March 2014.
  25. ^ "Gazan,West Bank farmers learn post-harvest storage techniques in Beit Dagan" Accessed 16 May 2014.
  26. ^ a b Meyers, Nechemia "Using cucumbers to curb crime." Archived March 31, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Jewish Tribune 12 July 2006 Accessed 31 March 2014.
  27. ^ "Ministry of Agriculture rehabilitates troubled youth." Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine (translated from Hebrew). Accessed 31 March 2014.

External links[edit]

31°59′25″N 34°49′2.84″E / 31.99028°N 34.8174556°E / 31.99028; 34.8174556