Qualified students in India will soon be able to earn a degree from Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in dryland agriculture and biotechnology, hydrology and water quality, desert studies, or ecology and conservation.

The new initiative is centered on BGU’s establishment of a joint agricultural research institute in Chennai, India, in partnership with Aban Offshore, an international Indian company in the offshore drilling and wind energy markets.

“Through this partnership with Aban, we are looking forward to being able to offer the vast knowledge and experience we develop here to students in India … so that they will be able to have an impact in their home country,” said Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the Israeli university’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research.

“This new generation of local scholars will receive the tools to tackle some of the most pressing concerns of the modern world: the need for efficient and modern agriculture to optimize and improve food production and the methods and technologies to increase and improve water availability and quality, all while keeping in mind the environmental concerns,” Weisbrod said.

BGU’s Vice President for Global Engagement, Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel, has been working on this initiative with Indian partner Sailendra Bhaskar.

“I am delighted that despite the challenges set by Covid-19 we were able to move forward with this important project, reinforcing BGU’s mission of combating desertification and exploring global challenges by bringing together water, food, energy and environmental research,” she said.

BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz noted that the university has been researching desert agriculture for more than 50 years.

“We are proud to be leading global research in these fields and therefore it is natural for Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to direct the academic establishment of an agriculture institute in India. The students will benefit from studies at BGU at our Sde Boker Campus, and then carry out relevant research in the new institute under the mentorship of BGU scientists.”