NEW YORK (Nov. 28)
The Agency for International Development (A.I.D.), under a program designed to tap into Israeli scientific and technological expertise, has set aside from its budget for 1986 some $5 million, for grants competition to provide funding for research and cooperation between Israel and Third World countries.
The figure proposed for this fiscal year represents a more than doubling of the amount of funds allocated last year for the United States-Israel Cooperative Development Research (CDR) program, according to Peter McPherson, the administrator for the A.I.D.
CDR is one of the many programs between Israel and the U.S., although CDR aims at Israeli cooperation with Third World scientists, particularly those from “least developed countries” or LDCs. Scientists from the U.S. normally do not participate in the program, according to the A.I.D.
McPherson, who has headed the A.I.D. since January 1981, met here recently with leaders of the World Jewish Congress, briefing them in the frame-work of the organization’s Third World Commission under the chairmanship of Rabbi Arthur Schneier, senior rabbi of the Park East Synagogue.
In its first year of operation and with a budget of $2 million, A.I.D. received about 340 project proposals of which only about 15 can be financed. Joint proposals from Israeli and LDC scientists can be made up to $150,000 in total funding.
By its own description of the CDR program, A.I.D. seeks “innovative research ideas in the natural sciences that aim to solve serious development problems” through “the testing of a scientific hypothesis or the development of a new technology through organized observation in an experimental setting.”
The CDR program was the result of a proposal by Rep. Howard Berman (D. Calif.) who introduced an amendment calling for funds to be allocated to improve collaboration between Israel and Third World developing countries, according to an official for the A.I.D. in Washington.
SOME OF THE PROGRAMS
Among the projected programs was a grant of $149,950 to Tel Aviv University in collaboration with the Forest Research Center in Kumasi, Ghana. The research seeks to “elucidate the role of a relatively new group of viruses which infect fungi.”
Another grant was to Khon Kaen University in Thailand in collaboration with the Volcani Center in Israel. The purpose of the project is “to help famers and small manufacturers shell cashew nuts more efficiently and with higher quality, to improve income in rural areas. The device will be designed, built and tested in Thailand with Israeli assistance.”
Other programs involve cooperation between Israeli experts and scientists at the University of the Philippines; the Makoka Agricultural Experiment Station in Malawi; and with the Estacao Agronomica National in Oeiras, Portugal.
McPherson described the program as a success and hoped more Israeli and LDC scientists would submit proposals for research grants. “What I’d like to see is a large number of Israeli institutions, both private and public, bid for A.I.D. contracts,” he said.
Schneier welcomed the U.S. program of cooperation with Israel and the Third World nations, and said that while the Jewish State itself is in many ways a developing country, its “extraordinary technological base and experience in nation building make it an ideal partner with the United States in providing technical and developmental assistance.”