The Central Arava

Written by on May 29, 2016 in

After three years working for Go South, we have done our small part in helping to get Be’er Sheva “on the map.” But, there are still plenty of places in the South that are completely unknown to both Olim and natives alike. On a recent day trip – 1 ½ hours southeast of Be’er Sheva – we got a glimpse into the development of a different part of the Negev – The Central Arava – considered to be one of the most remote and peripheral parts of Israel.

The Central Arava is made up of five moshavim (Idan, Hazeva, Ein Yahav, Tsofar and Faran) which maintain 460 active farms and two yishuvim (Sapir and Zukim) – with a grand total of just 3,000 residents.


On May 18, we were hosted by the Central Arava’s regional council in Sapir. We learned a tremendous amount about the region’s agriculture, research and development, tourism, education, initiatives, and services.


The primary source of income for residents is sophisticated agriculture. Roughly 500 farming families produce 60% of Israel’s fresh vegetable exports and 10% of its cut flower exports, despite an average yearly rainfall of only one inch!


Research and development in the Central Arava focuses on the following areas:

  • Agriculture
  • Bio-technology
  • Aquaculture
  • Ecology


Some of the tourist highlights in the Arava include:

Vidor’s Visitors Center

The Antelope Ranch

Aloe Vera House



We spent our entire day in the yishuv of Sapir which is home to the region’s one elementary and high school and matnas (ganim are found in each moshav). We were blown away by the beautiful new facilities of the campus which include a children’s library and music center.

Sapir is also home to AICAT – The Arava International Center for Agricultural Studies. Since 1994, the Center has trained thousands of students from the Far East and Africa in advanced agriculture and food production.



JNF Projects

The JNF has invested and continues to invest millions of dollars into the development of this region. One of their major projects was the building of a world-class medical center in Sapir, the regional center, to replace the dilapidated 40-year-old clinic and provide quality care in a professional environment. Their upcoming projects include a swimming pool complex, which will also be based in Sapir.


The vision for the region is to grow to almost double its population in the coming years. What attracts newcomers to the Arava? We were told that the people who come want a change in their lives – they want to get off the “treadmill,” to slow down, and to find a supportive community. They do not come for a job but the create their jobs for themselves. They come to be a part of building something from nothing. They come to be a part of the Zionist challenge.

PicMonkey Collage




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