Ten scholarships were recently awarded to students majoring in agriculture at a ceremony held at the Ramat Hanegev Desert Agri-Research Center, attended by Council Mayor Shmuel Rifman, Mr. Shai Nir – CEO of Genesis Seeds Ltd. and, Yankele Moskowitz – Head of the Desert Agri-Research Center.
The scholarships are granted by the Fund for the Advancement of Agriculture in Ramat Hanegev, commemorating Professor Colette Zeruya and Mr. Emanuel Shemin, sponsored by the Genesis Company and Ramat Hanegev Desert Agri-Research Center, which was established by the Association for the Resident and the Community in Ramat Hanegev.
Professor Colette Zeruya was an unforgettable and special person to everyone who knew her. She was among Israel’s senior water researchers, head of the Laboratory of the Sea of Galilee and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) Institute. Later, she managed Negev and Arava research and development for the Jewish Agency. She performed all her roles skillfully and with great diligence and excelled in her planning and execution capabilities. She initiated numerous projects in the field of desert agriculture such as the usage of saline water, seed production development, and various specialty crops. In 1992, when she met Emanuel Shemin and Yitzhak Nir, she became very keen on the idea of growing seeds of high research value in the Negev, for export purposes. Colette will be remembered as a very special and significant figure, for her impact on desert agricultural research in the Negev and Arava. She lived in Ashalim almost to her last days.
Mr. Emanuel Shemin, who was one of the great friends of agriculture in Israel, aspired to see the Hanegev bloom. Shemin was an American Jew who engaged in industrialized farming and established a network of wholesale distribution centers for distributing decorative plants and related products, “all under one roof” (or a “one stop shop”). In 1976, he met Yitzhak Nir in the U.S. and their paths were intertwined until Emanuel’s passing in January 2009.
Emanuel Shemin established the Shemin Scholarship Fund in Israel for training Israeli agricultural instructors abroad, as well as the agricultural marketing unit at the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot; he also aided agricultural instructors and research institutes and offered his help in anything that had to do with Israeli agriculture. In 1978, he helped Yitzhak Nir in the development of planting in Israel, and helped form contacts with planting experts in the U.S. In 1994, he founded Genesis Seeds Ltd. with Yitzhak and Shai Nir.
Their goal was to develop knowledge-based, but not heavily production-based, ventures in the Negev. The year by year development of the Center in Ashalim and the seeding grounds in bloom were, in his words, the most beautiful things he had ever seen in his life. He loved Israel deeply. He had countless friends and acquaintances here, took great pride in Israeli agriculture and viewed his prospective achievements as pioneering work.
Eligible for the scholarships are people engaged in agriculture in Ramat Hanegev: technology and research developers, students, trainees, teachers, instructors, farmers, and those who fill technical positions related to agriculture. All scholarship recipients are residents of Ramat Hanegev.