Professor David Levy’s windowsill is lined with potatoes of numerous shapes and sizes. It’s an appropriate decoration for a man who has spent his lifetime breeding the staple food.

Now Levy, an Israeli scientist from the Hebrew University Institute for Plant Sciences, at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, has developed not only a new strain of potatoes suitable for growth in hot, dry climates, but also new strains that can be grown using irrigation from saline water sources.

His development will have a huge impact on potato production in hot, desert regions like the Middle East, where temperatures are scorching, and water resources scarce.

Levy believes that farmers in these desert regions will now be able to grow their own potatoes, and market them to Europe and the US, helping their economies thrive.

Levy also hopes that his research will “enhance understanding and maybe even peace” between Israel and its neighbors, as scientists and officials from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco meet with Israeli scientists at USAID-sponsored regional meetings held in Morocco, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus to share knowledge and build bridges of information and technology.