Sustainable Development Lab

The Boris Mints Institute Sustainable Development lab, together with Dr. Ram Fishman's Nitsan 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.


In collaboration with the Manna Center Program for Food Safety and Security 


 Research Project 

Combating the Mango Fruit Fly in Kenya – In Collaboration with ICIPE and the Matanel Foundation

Opher Mendelsohn, Graduating BMI Fellow (on the right)
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy 


The project has several objectives: (1) Dissemination of a sustainable solution for the problem of the oriental fruit fly in mango orchards in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya (2) Capacity building of the local extension service (3) Increasing regional cooperation (4) Assessing the impact of adopting the new practices. 

Insights gleaned from this project are already being put to use in an additional project for regional management of the fall armyworm. The fall armyworm is an invading pest that causes devastating losses to maize, Africa’s primary staple crop. This project, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, is a cooperative effort of Tel Aviv University and ICIPE in various counties around western Kenya. 

These projects not only aim to promote a change in farming practices, but to dramatically improve the life of Kenyan famers and their families. 

 Research Project 

BMI-TATA Collaboration Operation Project

Yalon Perlman, BMI Fellow
Academic advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

BMI-TATA Cooperation, 3.jpg

This study examines the economic impact of various farming technologies through field experiments. The results challenge the assumption that crop increases bring a correlating increase in a farmer's revenue. Further, the work includes an index of the various difficulties encountered when conducting field experiments in an agricultural field as opposed to a demonstration farm. Often NGOs in developing countries do not adequately integrate academic research into their projects. Hence, an addition goal of this project is to show how academic studies can aid in determining ideal resource allocation and developing a plan of action for the target population chosen by a given NGO. 

 Research Project 

Impact of Drought on Farmer Suicides

Yoav Rothler, Graduating BMI Fellow (on the left)
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy 


In the past year Mr. Rothler studied the socio-economic impact of irrigation usage on farmers. In particular, he analyzed the connection between irrigation cover rates and farmer suicide rates. The results of his research indicate that a higher rate of irrigation is directly related to lower farmer suicide rates. In contrast to this, irrigation cover does not have any significant relationship to suicides among other occupational groups. This provides strong evidence that the effect of irrigation cover on suicides is driven by factors related to farming. Further analysis reveals that most of the demonstrated effect is related to variation in canal irrigation cover, rather than well irrigation. This distinction is important because canal irrigation is more favourably distributed among small and marginal farmers, while well irrigation is more advantageous to larger farmers. 

 Research Project 

Breaking New Ground in Indo-Israeli Agricultural Technology Transfer

Karel Finkelstein and David Shurman, BMI Fellows
Academic Advisor: Dr. Ram Fishman, Department of Public Policy

Currently, the pilot program focuses on orchards and involves six farmers in the Anantapur district-- one of the driest areas in India. Though it is too early to determine whether the tool is successful, preliminary results are promising. Though the pilot is focused on trees, an additional experiment was conducted with a tomato farm in the Krishna district. In this experiment the Tal-Ya plot yielded more than three times the amount than the control plots. As a result, the student researchers are currently making plans to expand the experiment to vegetables in the next cycle. This has the potential not only to benefit farmers by saving water and increasing yield, but it will also have a positive impact on the environment.  Tal-Ya’s product is meant to last ten years and is recyclable-- allowing farmers to substantially reduce the use of single-use plastic. 
In addition, the research group recently concluded its first post-harvest tech-pilot. Post-harvest solutions are important as crops often suffer substantial damages after being harvested, but before being sold. The Israeli argitech company Amaizz attempts to provide cheap post-harvest tools that minimize the losses caused by crop spoilage and degradation throughout the handling, storage, and processing stages.