The Manna Center for Plant Biosciences (MCPB) is a food safety and security research center housed within the department of Plant Sciences at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Tel Aviv, Israel. The main topic of study at MCPB is to garner basic knowledge in order to improve the agronomic traits of major crops, thereby strengthening food security. MCPB seeks to achieve their food security and food safety goals while maintaining a respect for biodiversity, ecological balance, and sustainable management of natural resources. The center has a three-pronged approach to addressing the food security challenge, these are: teaching, research, and outreach.
The first prong, teaching, refers to the graduate programs and summer schools held for university students on the center’s food research topics. The next prong, research, refers to the research projects active at the center at any given time; in addition to the research carried out by University scientists, graduate research at MCPB is funded through academic incentives like travel scholarships, fellowships, and direct grants for students interested in food security, nutrition, and international development. MCPB recently sent a TAU student to Nepal to conduct an impact evaluation of an Israeli aid organization’s agriculture program. The center also recently sent three teams of TAU students to compete for the Clinton Initiative’s annual Hult Prize for social entrepreneurship.
The final prong, outreach, incorporates the center’s desire to affect change internationally. By conducting educational workshops and conferences on food safety, security, and water usage, the center is able to impact development in low-income countries. In attendance at these meetings are academics, international agencies, public officials, and local organizations. The next conference, “Leveraging Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Innovation in Development,” takes place July 3rd and 4th at Tel Aviv University. The conference is presented by the Manna Center in partnership with The Pears Innovation for International Development Program at the Hartog School of Government and Policy and will provide policymakers, academics, NGOs, and individuals in the private sector the opportunity to discuss the possibility of leveraging the private sector to spur innovation in agriculture.
The Director of the MCPB program is Dr. Danny Chamovitz, a genetic scientist at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants. His plant blog, The Daily Plant, is a treasure box of curious tidbits for plant enthusiasts.