Agrostudies Student is Discovered as Papaya Expert

Carica_papaya_005Stories about Agrostudies usually deal with information that passes from the Israeli farmers to the students who come from countries where there is a more basic, less technological form of agriculture than Israel. However, every once in a while, as can be expected when dealing with cross-cultural acquaintances, we run into an exceptional case.

The story of Roel Vera-Cruz is certainly an example of one of those.

Roel Vera-Cruz is a Buddhist Monk, an artist and owner of two Bachelor degrees. He used to be a sociology lecturer in Sri Lanka and has since become a research assistant to one of the leading professors in the field of exotic plants in the Philippines.

As part of his work with the professor he often dealt with the issue of crop protection and gained a lot of knowledge in the field. This includes experience with regards to Papaya crops that are quite common in the Philippines, whilst they are rare in Israel as only a handful of farmers grow them.

When he began studying at Agrostudies he Vera-Cruz met Dr. Miriam Zilberstein who is one of his course lecturers. Dr. Zilberstein has a professional relationship with various farmers in Israel and assists them with crop protection. Recently, she had been searching for an expert on Papayas who could aid one of the farmers in the Hof HaCarmel area in diagnosing and healing a crop disease that has attacked his Papayas. Dr. Zilberstein was quick to identify and make the connection between the farmer, Assaf Avizohar and Roel Vera-Cruz.


Vera-Cruz traveled together with her to Avizohar’s farm. There they surveyed the land and sent samples of the earth to labs for inspection. Whilst he visited they discovered a number of common interests and a new friendship sparked between the two.

Avizohar describes the meeting:

This guy is full of surprises. He is a monk, an artist, he was a sociology lecturer in Sri Lanka and became a research assistant for one of the most important professors in exotic crops in the Philippines. Dr Zilberstein told me that we have an untapped treasure of knowledge in him that doesn’t exist in Israel so we invited him and he is an exception man, very intelligent, thorough, we became friends and he will come visit us again soon.”

And so it seems this is the beginning of a beautiful new friendship that will allow the exchange of knowledge and expertise between two people from two far corners of the earth who have found common ground through the Papaya tree. Vera-Cruz is expected to visit again and share his knowledge and expertise with Avizohar, who has already promised him a tour of the area.


Roel Vera-Cruz is participating in the AGrostudies program as part of his agricultural specialization at the University in the Philippines. Following his internship in Israel he will submit his written report and complete his 3rd Bachelor’s degree.

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