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15 of 26 India-Israel farm projects operational; rest to start next year

Sanjeeb Mukherjee | New Delhi Jun 29, 2017 01:40 AM IST
File photo of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (left) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on November 15, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
India and Israel have been engaged in setting up state of the art centres of excellence in agriculture as part of the India-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP) since 2008. 

The IIAP is a three-way collaboration between Indian government, the Israel government and a state in India. 

So far of the proposed 26 centres of excellence, 15 have become fully operational, while the remaining are expected to start from early next year. 

These centres are being set up in states such as Bihar for litchi and mango, in Karnataka for mango, pomegranate and vegetables, in West Bengal for vegetables and so on. 

Most of the centres are focused on providing top class technical know-how seeds, best farming practices to enable growers of the region improve their yields and in the process increase his income. 

According to a concept note on IIAP, the basic concept of the Centres of excellence is based on a triangular format: Applied Research, SMS (Subject Matter Specialist) Field Extension Officer and the Progressive Farmer. 

The implementing agencies are the NHM–The National Horticulture Mission under the Ministry of Agriculture of India and MASHAV- Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sources said both sides are expected to deepen their already strong ties in agriculture with added emphasis on cooperating on water conservation solutions during the first ever visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi next month.

They said that there are plans to expand and extend this collaboration and take it to the next stage as the existing government-to-government model has worked and could be applied to a B2C concept.

Indian companies might be encouraged to set-up such mega Centres of Excellence in agriculture in collaboration with Israeli firms as part of this extended collaboration.

“Any progress on expanding the IIAP can happen only after all the proposed 26 centres are completed and become fully operational,” officials said. 

The concept note also states that there are plans for implementing an animal husbandry project and the establishment of beekeeping centres in Haryana; as well as the development of post-harvest centres for dates in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

That apart, the two countries are also expected to explore Israel’s expertise in water management solution including desalination of sea water to generate fresh water. 

Israel which few years back faced a massive water shortage due back to droughts has successfully managed to move towards water conservation through a big public awareness programme and desalination of sea water undertaken on massive scale. 

So much so, that its massive desalination plants along the Mediterranean Sea coast has enabled it to make more fresh water than it actually needs. 

Israel is one of the driest countries in the world and its minimum water usage for agriculture is a role model for all. 

An Israeli company was recently awarded a project to clean a part of river Yamuna. 

Ayala Water and Ecology Ltd. will focus on a stretch of eight kms of sewage, which drains into Yamuna River as an initial step towards cleaner water and environment.  
“In water conservation and management we are looking at a more B2G or B2B model wherein the government acts as an umbrella while the actual activity on ground is carried on by private companies,” sources said.

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