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Testimonials and Success Stories

My interest in agriculture is not particularly a story of passion since childhood, but rather sterns from my experience with my father in his farm and continuous study in a quest to increase crop productivity at his farm. An article published by an American publishing company, Science Daily, April 17, 2014 on the relationship between agriculture and increasing world population; a statement made by prof. Fred Davies who was a senior advisor to the USAID at that time changed my life forever.
It now became a driving force from that day that agriculture is the field of the future. I wanted to be an element of innovation in this field, and in order to excel in this revolutionary work place of tomorrow, one has to acquire the requisite knowledge needed to explore new advances in agriculture. My focus shifted and fixed on getting more knowledgeable in agriculture, knowing that combining both theoretical and practical experience is just the tool needed to start in my newly found path. To meet up with recent progress in agriculture and future advances, I needed a study environment that has the necessary facilities to help me nurture my idea.
My pursuit for world happiness led me to Tel Aviv University for a short course under the sponsorship of Benson Idahosa University from where on completion of my course did a scholarship interview to take a master degree in Plant science with an emphasis on food security and safety under the sponsorship of AICAT of which I finally got.
My experience so far in AICAT in the Arava has been amazing and it really focuses on what and how I planned to acquire knowledge. AICAT has done a wonderful job in providing us with a “learning by doing” approach. They provide us with a theoretical experience in the classrooms which is solely overseen by Tel Aviv University, and then practical experience, giving us the opportunity to work closely with Israeli farmers here in the arava. We do not just learn, but AICAT has joint collaborative relationships with many other institutions that focuses on giving us the very best, living almost no knowledge wasted. This has been particularly interesting for me because apart from just studying, we actually get to have one year and 6 months’ work experience in our desired field of study to support our degree.
It became even better when we were paired with research scientists that has contributed to scientific innovation in agriculture in Israel, working with them in specific projects to strengthen the agriculture here in Israel. This in itself gave us a better idea of how working in the laboratory can be. Especially for those of us who wish to be research scientists in the near future. It also helped us understand the importance of research and development (R&D) in sustainable agriculture.
The AICAT slogan is “AGRICULTURE WITHOUT BORDERS”. This is particularly true because I have gotten to meet with students from other countries, some in the same class as I am and many others in separate programs. The relationship this program has helped me built is particularly important because it will only take minds from different cultures to solve poverty, hunger and global food crisis.
For me this program is a total robust package.
My near future plan is to become a farmer using the knowledge and experience gained from this program to create food for the Nigerian population and eventually the world. Also, contributing to making Nigeria a self sufficient country again, giving us the opportunity to contribute to the fight against the predicted world food crisis in the future.
Endurance P. Ojo

Endurance P. Ojo

June 8, 2017 was a very especial day on which Tuan Vu and Thanh received an MSc degree in Plant biology with emphasis in food security. Below are the words of Prof. Ohad Nir, Head of the Mana Program about their Journey. 
We would like to congratulate you all for your outstanding achievements and for been awarded with this MSc degree form ATU.
Yesterday ceremony at the Smolarsh Auditorium was a very exciting and moving. When Taun and Vu received their degree, the entire hall stood up and cheered them as we all do for their eminence effort and achievement.
Vu, Tuan and Thanh, you have pioneered our unique program facing birth pangs, and paved the way for the coming cohorts of students setting an example and a very high standard which they will need to meet.  
I wish you all much success in all you do, and ask you to keep in touch with us to learn on your achievements in the future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gideon and Amram for guiding Thanh.
Special thanks and appreciation is conveyed to Aviva and Alin for their guidance and support of Vu and Taun along their thesis as well as both the Chamovitz and Ohad lab members for their support.
We thank all administrators in our faculty and in TAU that have helped setting and running this program smoothly.
Finally a huge thanks  and appreciation is given to  the Manna Center team, Talia, Efrat and Maya and our wonderful partners at AICAT Haya, Roy and Hanni as well as the entire AICAT team whom without your effort and support all this would not have happened.
As so many people have contributed to the successes of our program I apologize in advance If I forgot to mention any of you, please excuse me.
With much appreciation to you all

MSc First Cohort

On the 4th of November 2014, I arrived to the Arava and I was welcomed by a really heavy rain. It was so heavy that I thought that was a tropical rain. This immediately connects with my emotion because I thought that I brought the rain to the Arava (my name is Vu = rain, in English). About 30 months studying the M.Sc. of Plant Sciences, I personally really enjoy it. Despite learning great academic and practical skills, I also have wonderful moments. I exposed myself from the hot (48oC) to the cold (approximately 0oC), from harvesting peppers, tomatoes, strawberries,… to use biological techniques to unravel mysterious questions, from living in the middle of nowhere to studying in one of the most dynamic city. In my opinion, no such master program can have students exposed to such variety of experiences. This program provides a strong background to advance my future career.
The graduation ceremony was really emotional and wonderful. To be honest, I have never been in such situation which staying in a huge Auditorium with that big applause. Both Tuan and I were so proud of our selves (Thanh missed this moment, unfortunately) to be the first (the pioneer as Hanni calls us), to study this unique program.
To take the opportunity on the graduation, we (Vu, Tuan and Thanh) would like to send our thankful to all people.
First of all, we want to express our grateful toward Prof. Amram Eshel, Prof. Danny Chamovitz and Prof. Nir Ohad who patiently instructed us and gave us a high freedom in research. Thanh, additionally, wants to thank Dr. Gidon Winters and Dr. Einav Mayzlish Gati. In addition, our researches could not be successful if there was no support from Aviva in Ohad’s lab, Allin in Chamovitz’s lab and Dr. Rivki, Boaz in the Yair R&D Station.
AICAT – Manna Center team has a huge effort to make this such successful program. We really appreciate the effort from Hanni, Roy, Haya, Maya, Talya, Efrat and all other member in the team. You have done a lot to run the program smoothly. Thank you so much.
We also send our thankful to our lecturers: Effi, Erik, Hagit, Gidon, Simon, Yael and Yair. They gave great lessons and always encouraged our studying.
We thank the TAU administrators in the faculty, and all members in the Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants.
We want to thank the Yair R&D for making a nice research place and facilitating our participation in the MOP during studying in the Arava.
Finally, the program would not be successful without them, the farmers. They play a crucial part for us to be on practical farms, to learn practical skills.
We know that there are many other people who have contributed to the program, some people we even have not met before. We apologize in advance if we forgot to mention any person.
Respecfully yours,
Vu Nguyen
Tuan Luu Anh
Thanh Hoai Tran

MSc Cohort 1 graduation

Thida Win from Myanmar was a student in AICAT in 2011-2012. She was also a group leader for two years from 2014-2016.
" I appreciate being a student in AICAT and the practice of “Learning by doing. When I graduated from AICAT in 2012, I received a management position in one of the agricultural areas in my country, and had the opportunity to implement everything I learned."
Thida held this position for two years, and then was offered to return to Israel as a group leader, a position she held for two years.
Upon her return to Myanmar in 2016, she met with Dr. Arvi Bar Tzur from Israel who works with the Talhi Academic College about a sesame project and dry zone development. The Israeli Ambassador introduced them to each other. AICAT team wish her a great success in her new adventure! 

Thida Win

Htawshae Lum Hkawng from Myanmar, graduated from the diploma program in 2012.
"It was a really amazing program for me. This program has set me up with the tools I need for my life thanks to the combination of practical work in the farm and the theory we received in class. I learn how to start a farm from the most basic steps: Planting, Pruning, Feeding, Sterilizing, Irrigating and cleaning and then Harvesting, Packaging, Cleaning and maintaining the farm under the green houses and net houses. When I went back to my country I started working for the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) as an Organic Demonstration Farm Manager for one and half years. After that I worked as Food Security Program Coordinator.

During my working period in KBC I had to work with more than 500 farmers in different areas within Kachin State, Myanmar. I had learnt from Israel not only how to make agriculture but also how to start and run business successfully. While I worked in KBC I did not only demonstrated and applied agriculture techniques but I also started to run Agri-business which is producing and distributing the Agriculture products the farmers grow. I had to adapt the agriculture techniques I learned at AICAT to our indigenous knowledge. For example when we grew tomatoes in Israel we used the rope for standing tomatoes plants. But in my place I use bamboo and shelf, and feeding fertilizers, so on. In agriculture products we focus on rice because it is staple food in Myanmar. We teach the farmer growing technique, collecting the rice, milling and packaging it and distributing the rice to customers. In this, I applied what I have learned in AICAT.

One of my great turning points in my life is that I met my life partner in the Arava. She was also an AICAT student. We did not know each other before because since she is from the South and I am from the North of Myanmar. Thanks to AICAT, in 2013, April 9th we got married. Now we have a lovely and brave son and he is two and half years old. We gave him the name Htawshae Arava Hkawng Lum because we miss and love Arava."

In 2015 Htawshae joined the MSc program under the joint partnership of AICAT and Tel- Aviv University. He currently takes the last semester of the Program. We wish him success in his future endeavors in the agricultural sector.

Htawshae Lum Hkawng

I am so proud to be a graduate of AICAT. I participated in the diploma program in 2011-2012. In 2014 I became a group leader and later on graduated from the MSC Program in Plant Science (March 2016). The knowledge and experience I gained from AICAT enabled me to get a very good position – an Agriculture Admin Support for Digital Agriculture Association of Vietnam. In my job we use agricultural technology such as
drip irrigation, net houses & greenhouses and more. We try to teach farmers how to increase production using these advance techniques. We hope to change the cultivation methods of farmers from traditional to modern.
From bottom of my heart, I would like to thank AICAT  for the teaching & support that contributed to my education. I will continue doing the best to help the farmers in my country to get higher quantity & quality of agriculture production.
Anh Phung

Anh Phung

Dear Ms. Hanni, Dr. Haya and all AICAT team,
First of all, it was obviously an amazing and unforgettable moment at the graduation ceremony In Tel Aviv University with you today. Congratulation to me and to you! My success is actually your success. 
To be honest, I don’t have some very sexy words like Endurance does; nevertheless, I from the bottom of my heart really want to say something to thank you for all what you have done for me. I still remember the first time I met Ms. Hanni at Hanoi Open University some two years ago, and now I have graduated from the MSc program, time have gone so quickly. In my mind, it was not a dream, but a journey which is meaningful so much to me, to my life. Thank to you, to your devoted works, me of today is “a significant difference” compared to me before Israel. Beside the academic knowledge I have gained through the program, I have become not only more mature but also more confident about myself. Moreover, I have finally changed the way I think about anything to really get me “out of the box”, that is the most important lesson I have learned from Israel. Actually, there would not be words neither in English, Hebrew nor even Vietnamese can expresses how thankful I am about what you have done for me through the program. This MSc program has particularly changed my life forever.
Last but not least, I am deeply grateful to you for what you have done, what you are doing and what you will do for other students from developing countries including masters and diploma students. After one and a half year living here, I have seen the improvement day by day, you are doing a very good job, thus I confidently believe about the future of AICAT, the future of the ARAVA regional council and the future of your dreams, especially your dream Ms. Hanni. 
Thank you so much, recently I am still around and will meet you soon in the farewell party. By the way, we will absolutely be in touch, and will not only maintain but also strengthen our relationship in the future. 
Toda with all the best,

Mr. Nguyen Manh Hung

Wirin Anthakhaek, a teacher from Mahasarakham College of Agriculture and Technology in Thailand arrived at AICAT in 2002 as a student in the diploma program. For the next 4 consequent years 2003-2007 she was sent by OVEC as a Thai interpreter.
Four months after her return to Thailand she initiated with a group of AICAT graduates a new tutorial project, based on the studies and training in Israel: The establishment and management of a profitable farming unit, with crops that suit the Thai market. The students grew corn in large quantities, using drip irrigation system. 
Says Wirin "Sweet corn was selected as a crop due to its high demand in the market. I got this idea during my second year in the Arava (2004) as a group leader. So I encouraged my students and convinced them that we have enough knowledge to run our own farm in Thailand and together we established the ARAVA FARM COMPANY under our college, upon our return to Thailand.

Wirin Anthakhaek

"We are the champions", that is the song we sang in the closing ceremony in Tel Aviv University. That is the truth, we are the winners and we are so proud of ourselves. Looking back, in order to harvest wonderful results in this new MSc program "there are so many things we have to do, there are a lot of challenges we have to get through. 
The difficult thing was the extreme weather, which required us to adapt in order to succeed. 
In Feb 24, 2016 we successfuly graduated from the MSc program in plant biology founded by AICAT and Tel Aviv University. All fifteen members in my class now hold a valuable key to further develop our future. During 18 months of living and studying together we slowly developed our friendship, which I respect and appreciate. I wish all my friends to reach their own stars. For those who currently attend or plan to join this MSc program, do not be afraid of any difficulties. Nothing come easy in our world. The more challenges you come across the more opportunities you get to learn, engage your conscious and find your own future.  I'm still a researcher and lecturer in Nong Lam University HCMC, this is a great opportunity for me to implement what I studied here and contribute to Vietnam.
We are the champions, for now and for future. Thank you to all our teachers from Tel Aviv University, AICAT and all AICAT's members that guided us at the "Startup Nation" - Israel.

Tran Hoai Thanh