The Research and Development in the Arava Valley – ערבה was initiated in 1986 in the framework of Negev-Arava R&D, aiming to serve the developmental needs of the new settlements as they were officially declared high priority regions along the Israeli borders. The Arava Valley, along the eastern portion of the Negev Desert, has three agricultural research stations; Zoar, Yair and Arava.
The Arava region is located along 180 km from the Dead Sea in the north to the city of Eilat on the Red Sea coast, in the south. The width of the region varies between 3 to 10 km from the mountains of the Negev highlands in the west and the Edom Mountains of the Jordan Kingdom, in the east.
Central-and Northern-Arava Research and Development
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The R&D activity takes place in 3 agricultural villages (moshav) of Sodom Valley – Tamar Council (Neot-HaKikar, Ein-Tamar, and Ein-Hazeva (pvt farm)), and in five agricultural villages (Idan, Hazeva, Ein-Yahav, Zofar, and Paran) and two communal villages (Sapir Center and Zukim) of Central Arava Council. The regional public activities and services are located in Sapir Center and Yair Experimental Station
A modern visitors center will be opened officially in March, 2014 and will feature an interactive model of how the Syrian-African Rift Valley was created. Guided tours of the agricultural hothouses are available.
The population of the Central-Arava region is comprised of approximately (May 2013) 700 families (of which 530 are farmers), about 3,360 people, and that of the Sodom Valley (Tamar) 120 families (110 farmers) about 550 people. The arable land comprised (2012/13 season) of 35,760 dunam (9,000 acres, 3,643 hectares), of which 82% vegetables, 16% fruit trees plantation (mainly dates) and 2% cut flowers. The pepper (Capsicum) is the major crop in the region and holds 50% of the total arable land and 66% of the vegetables area. The bio-organic farming holds about 10% of the growing area.
Southern Arava R&D
SA R&D hosts various scientific activities including soil and water sciences, postharvest, horticulture, flowers and ornamental plants, vegetables, plant protection and agrotechnology. The lab for soil, water and plant analysis serves the SA R&D researchers and together with extension officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, provides comprehensive support for the region’s farmers, landscapers and gardeners.
Arava Valley research has focused on new varieties of peppers, strawberries, dates, flowers, aquaculture, livestock, fodder crops, flower-seed growing and harvesting, and developing jojoba beans, used in cosmetics and lubricants, a year-round cash crop for the region. Results from this research have been encouraging. The Arava region produces about 60% of the total Israeli export of fresh vegetables and about 10% of the cut flowers export. Over 90% of Israel’s melon exports come from the Arava Valley. The region also produces more than 40% of Israel’s vegetable and field crops.