Texas-Israel Exchange Program (TIE)
The Texas-Israel Exchange Program (TIE) was formally established in 1985 through the signing of a Memorandum
of Agreement between the governments of Texas and Israel. The memoranda stated
that there was considerable potential to work together on projects related
to energy, trade, marketing and processing, crop development, water
use and conservation, research, and joint adventures.Today, TIE continues
to support agricultural research and development as well as improve
trade and business relations between Texas and Israel.
In 1987, TIE established it’s first project:
the TIE Demonstration Farm in Laredo. The Laredo Junior College had
offered up to 100 acres of land along the Rio Grande for the farm’s
creation and in the spring of 1987 a feasibility study was financed
by the Jewish National Fund, which
sent over three Israeli consultants to design the extensive plan for
the farm. The first crops planted were in the spring of 1988, which
included tomatoes, peppers, melons, and specialty cucumbers.
In 1991, the Texas Israel Exchange Board was formally
appointed and focused on emphasizing a transfer of knowledge between
Texas and Israeli scientists on improving agricultural and livestock
production in arid climates. In January of 1992, a new Memorandum of
Intent was signed with a focus to broaden the program, encourage greater
participation and to prove, through applied research, that the similarities
in agriculture between Texas and Israel can be a lesson for both partners.
The TIE Grant Program began in 1992 to emphasize a
transfer of knowledge between Texas and Israel and started funding research
projects in 1993 through grants awarded by the Texas Legislature and
Texas Department of Agricutlure. Under the program, TIE distributed
funding to the scientists in Texas and the Israeli scientists’
projects are funded through the Ministry of Agriculture in Israel. Each
of the projects funded would require a Texas and Israeli scientist on
each team, funded equally by the TIE Fund.
TIE funding is focused on pilot projects involving
drip irrigation, desalinization, and greenhouse production.
Through 2011, TIE had secured funding for a number
of innovative projects including:
Saline-Irrigated Garden Plants: The research is
identifying annuals and perennials that can tolerate poor-quality
water to free up high-quality water for domestic rather than landscape
use. Plants showing the most tolerance for salinity levels
were portulaca, Missouri primrose, Blackfoot daisy and trailing
lantana. sumac, oleander, lion’s tail, snapdragon, aster,
calendula and lantana also were found to tolerate salinity treatments
well. However, Mexican heather and velvet sage tolerated salinity
poorly. The project will continue to test plants for salinity
tolerance and provide future recommendations for landscape plantings.
The project received a $50,000 TIE grant and is based at Texas Tech
University in Lubbock.
Drought-Resistant Wheat: The project will continue
to examine the genetic basis of drought resistance found in a wild
wheat that was the ancestor of a major Old World wheat variety domesticated
in the Near East Fertile Crescent. The wild wheat’s
drought resistance was lost when the crop became domesticated. However,
this research intends to apply modern molecular genetics to use
a rich gene pool of Israeli wild cereals for improving drought resistance
in cultivated wheat in Texas and Israel. The project received
a $50,000 TIE grant and is based at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Drought-Tolerant Cotton: The research will continue
to identify drought-tolerant genes from wild cotton found in arid
regions of Mexico and Central America to enhance drought-tolerance
and strong fiber development in domestic cotton through plant breeding
and genetic engineering. Currently, 23 populations are being
evaluated for yield stability. The project received a $50,000
TIE grant and is based at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Rice Grown with Drip Irrigation: The project will
continue to experiment within the Lower Colorado River Authority’s
rice-producing areas to determine the feasibility of using sub-surface
drip irrigation for growing rice. Rice irrigation accounts
for 74 percent of water consumed in the LCRA basin. This project’s
initial research has found that average water use by dripline irrigation
treatments has been only 20 percent of conventionally flooded treatments
for rice. In addition, rice yields from drip irrigated fields
were higher than yields from conventionally irrigated fields. The
project received a $25,000 TIE grant and is being conducted at the
Texas A&M University Agricultural Research And Extension Center
- Annual Cut Flowers: The project will continue to
evaluate a wide range of promising cut flower candidates for commercial
production in Texas. Field trials on many varieties have already begun,
including zinnias, cosmos and Indian summer. Research data will serve
as a basis for producing a handbook and website on growing cut flowers
in warm regions, particularly Texas and Israel. The project received
$25,000 each from TIE and the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The Texas
research is based at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.
- Land-based Fish Production: The study will continue
to develop and evaluate a sustainable land-based integrated mariculture
system to produce fish, shrimp and seaweed using seawater. The project
received $25,000 each from TIE and JNF. In Texas, the research is
based at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Corpus Christi.
- Drought-Tolerant Specialty Peppers: The project
will continue to examine ways to improve drip irrigation and center
pivot technologies; develop nutrient and irrigation management techniques
to decrease drought- and heat-effects on peppers; and develop drought-tolerant
chile poblanos in Texas and colored-bell peppers in Texas and Israel.
The project received $25,000 each from TIE and JNF. In Texas, the
research is based at Texas Agricultural Experiment Stations in Uvalde
Department of Agriculture; Israeli