WASHINGTON (Apr. 4)
Israel will help in agricultural development in three Caribbean countries — the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Antigua — under a project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). The $550,000 grant for the “first-of-kind agreement” was signed at the State Department yesterday by M. Peter McPherson, AID Administrator, and Ambassador Aharon Ofri of Israel’s Mission to the United Nations. AID will finance technical services to be implemented by Israel’s Division of International Cooperation and Center for International Cooperation for Agricultural Development.
AID has been seeking “better ways of using the considerable capability of Israel in connection with our programs around the world,” McPherson said as the agreement was signed. “We are particularly pleased that we can put some of this competence at the service of our Caribbean friends.”
McPherson called the agreement “a first modest step; we look forward to continuing collaboration in the Caribbean and other parts of the world.”
ISRAEL WANTS TO BROADEN COOPERATION
Ofri also said Israel wants to “broaden this cooperation to other countries in the (Caribbean) region where our assistance is requested.” Referring to future U.S.-Israel cooperation elsewhere, he stressed in particular Africa where “hunger is killing thousands of children and adults.”
He said Israel is “looking forward to a similar agreement to the one we signed today for Africa,” calling it “particularly appropriate that this agreement was signed on the eve of Passover and Easter.”
McPherson said the projects are part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative in which the U.S. is trying to help countries achieve self-sustaining economic growth. He said the U.S. is emphasizing agriculture in the initiative “in which Israel’s capabilities — especially in irrigation and dry land agriculture — are world renowned.”
In the Dominican Republic, Israel will provide a plant pathologist, a field crop expert and laboratory specialists to work on an AID project there. In Jamaica, six Israeli specialists will help improve the management, operation and maintenance of two irrigation systems on the southern coast.
In Antigua, Israel will furnish a long-term resident technician and other assistance to help with the “Bethesda Project”, an irrigation-based settlement intended to achieve intensive vegetable production.