The Training & Professional Services Unit, or as it is referred to- SHOHAM - in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, is an organization of experts in the various agricultural fields, which forms the Ministry of Agriculture’s professional nucleus.
One of its primary targets is to accomplish national goals in developing agriculture according to the objectives of the Ministry of Agriculture while integrating applied research and training. The organization works to collect and create knowledge and disseminate it to the broader farming public in Israel in order to improve the profitability of the farming economy and from a public benefit perspective of the farming industry.
The Training & Professional Services Unit began operations in its current format in 1965, where it included the Training Administration, which had been under the responsibility of the Jewish Agency, and the professional units, which had been under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Nowadays the Training & Professional Services is comprised of professional units according to sub-divisions, which in turn are divided according to the various farming sectors: vegetables in open and sheltered spaces; fruit, where citrus and orchards are two separate units; flowers, which also includes the field of plant engineering and botanical gardens; the livestock sub-division, which includes dairy and meat cattle, sheep and goats, fowl, fisheries and apiaries; service sub-division, consisting of: the field service, automation and plant protection; agroecology, within which are the horticulture and organic farming fields, and the Training Department and Administration. Another field is the production economy, which deals with producing crop calculations and economic trend analysis in the various agricultural fields.
In 2008, a summary report was prepared by the Knesset Research and Information Center, which stated that the Training & Professional Services had a very good reputation locally and worldwide, recognizing its contribution toward developing and streamlining the farming economy. Technologies and work methods which have been developed in Israel are now being studied worldwide and this is proof that they make a substantial contribution toward improving the capabilities of the global farming industry.
Primary Goals of the Training & Professional Services
• To provide high-quality, timely professional training to farmers in order to upgrade their professional and administrative level and to ensure their ability to earn a decent living while living in a good quality environment.
• To ensure the efficient use of the means of production at the disposal of the farming industry: land, water, labor and capital.
• To maintain a repository of farming and agricultural knowledge for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, for the other government ministries and for other entities, public and private, which are related to the farming sector.
• To create, distribute and assimilate new knowledge and advance technologies to the farmers:
According to the quality requirements for production and marketing of the agricultural produce.
Subject to sustainability indices, while conserving natural resources, safeguarding the environment and preserving open spaces.
• Raising public awareness of the positive contribution of agriculture to the state, the landscape and the environment.
Training as a public product
Agriculture has public benefits beyond serving as a primary productive entity in the periphery. Agriculture helps occupy and safeguard lands and open spaces, it reduces the use of pesticides, it contributes to reducing CO2 and preserves the green environment, it uses marginal water and helps dispose of treated waste water, and it also preserves rural history and culture as part of the Israeli tradition and folklore. Therefore, the outcomes of the efforts of the Training & Professional Services trainers is, among other things, regarded as having public benefits justifying public and state operation and funding.
The Training & Professional Services serves the farming professions as a values-based, economic and social compass, improving the quality of life of Israeli residents, while ensuring the continued existence of farming in the country.