Sustainable Development Lab

The lab explores broad issues of Sustainable Development, with particular emphasis on developing countries, global food security, and sustainable agriculture. The lab contains a strong empirical field component, and is taking place in multiple locations in Africa and South Asia.




Lab Leader:

PhD Students:

MA Students:

Opher Mendelsohn
Yoav Rothler

Dr. Ram Fishman,

Department of Public Policy, 

Faculty of Social Sciences

David Shorman
Karel Finkelstein
Alon Pardo

Oren Kaplun

Shay Guilat

BMI is a part of Israel's action plan to meet the UN's SDGs through the activity of the Sustainable Development Lab - see the report submitted to the UN by the State of Israel, p. 181.

Research Projects:

BMI-TATA Project

BMI fellows: David Shorman, Karel Finkelstein, Oren Kaplun, Shai Guilat, Alon Pardo

The cooperation between BMI and the Indian philanthropic organization TATA Trusts in this project is creating an innovative, developed program for supporting the poorest farmers in the world. The initiative, supported by the state Government of Andhra Pradesh, focuses on establishing an advanced R&D center, as well as promoting activities of agricultural experts in villages and farms – aiming to overcome various technological, agronomic and economic barriers, that are imposed on the local population and promote sustainable agriculture and food security in the region. The main goals of this project are to double the farmers' income, focusing on the main challenges that Indian farmers are facing – water, diversification and soil health, as well as the high-value production of horticulture, dairy products and precise agriculture through irrigation. This program will systematically identify, adapt, test and diffuse modern agricultural technologies to smallholder farmers in India. The first step that the BMI-TATA team took is the development of a mobile phone-based app (see picture) for use by extension agents in order to collect data. This data will enable the researchers to define the nature of the major agricultural challenges and understand the working capacity of the farmers. The team will travel to India several times a year to collect data and continue the project. This project is now widely recognized, as the whole cooperation between TATA and Tel-Aviv University is channelled through BMI. In the future, we plan to extend the program to all parts of India.
Tata Trusts - Tel Aviv University Indo-Israeli Innovation  Villages 
Activity Report 2018-19

Media Coverage:

Productivity Enhancement in Horticulture - TATA Project
Filmed by TATA
Indian TV reporting the work of Dr. Ram Fishman and his students in India, in cooperation with TATA Trusts, 3/8/2018   

Israeli Innovation: ‘Good For Us, Good For Them’

Article by Maayan Hoffman, The Jerusalem Post, 4/5/2018

A drone-mounted sonar system

for accurate yield estimation

Prof.  Yossi Yovel, Faculty of Life Sciences
Dr. Avital Bechar, Agricultural Engineering,
Volkani Institute
As bats are able to navigate like no one else can, using their technique of navigating can help develop robots, which will use sonar systems to accurately estimate yield of crops. Moreover: such robots just as bats would work better in numbers and provide farmers with correct information which they need. The aim of this project was to mount our sonar on a drone to allow a quick, large and real yield assessments while flying above a field. The goal was achieved, as a system that includes a gimbal that can be mounted on a drone and carry the sonar system was developed – a combination of an emitter and an ultrasonic receiver. This has been tested and the system operated successfully in a pilot flight.

Plant based heat stress whole-cell-bio-sensor (WCBS)

Prof. Yosi Shacham-Diamand,  Faculty of Engineering
Prof. Adi Avni, Faculty of life Sciences 

During the recent decades, water consumption worldwide has increased due to global warming while precipitation in semi-arid and arid zones decreased. In the era where dramatic increase in food supply is needed, managing irrigating carefully could lead to reduction of growing costs. Monitoring heat stress will enable better watering management to obtain high yield with adequate quality. In the current study, they used an electrochemical approach to assay the activity of β-glucuronidase (GUS) first in the suspension cells of the transgenic tomato plant and then in a transgenic tobacco plant. GUS is an acid hydrolyase enzyme that cleaves a wide variety of β –glucuronic acids. It doesn’t give a background signal in the plant. We used an electrochemical approach to assay the activity of GUS in Msk8 tomato cells using Phenolphthalein- β-glucuronic acid as the substrate.

Meeting Global Challenges through International Cooperation with ICIPE

This research project us supported  by the Matanel Foundation

BMI fellow Opher Mendelsohn
One of the problems that the Food security and sustainable development lab of BMI is focusing on, is how to fight pests in different parts of the world, mainly insects, that damage crops.
The question is: how can be bring the agro-tech to the poorest corners of the world, while keeping the prices of technology affordable and at the same time monitor and measure the impact of any intervention? 
BMI's cooperation with ICIPE, a prominent research institute in Kenya, is aiming at doing just that. Our first joint research project focuses on combating the mango fruit fly. This co-operation promotes both low and high technology solutions, but stresses that these solutions must be accompanied by an adjustment or a change of practice. The project is implemented in different communities and landscapes in order to choose the best possible practice for protecting crops from insects and diseases.  A system that shall work better than simple pesticides is called the Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM has to be implemented not just technically but rather environmentally and economically. There are certain factors that might prevent the adoption of the IPM – profit, risk (uncertainty), innovation acceptance, environment and health awareness and human pride. This project is specifically targeting the mango fruit fly, that has been damaging mangoes all over Kenya, ever since 2003.The project has several objectives: (1) Dissemination of a sustainable solution to the mango fruit flyt in Elgeyo Marakwet county, Kenya; (2) Capacity building of the local extension service; (3) Increasing the regional cooperation and (4) Assessing the impact of adopting a new practice. In the long term this project seeks to develop R&D centres in the county levels as part of agricultural value chain, apply of development funds, improve farmers’ cooperation. . This project doesn’t only promote a change but actually digs in deep on how to help the farmers in Kenya and improve their life as a whole.