Interviews

ISRAEL: The Country Metamorphosing Agriculture

In conversation with the Ambassador -  Daniel Carmon

Stories and information that eulogizes Israeli technology are ubiquitous. The practicality of it is much apparent with the augmenting numbers in a farmer’s bank account. Talking of the impact of Israeli technology in India, there would not be a better person than Ambassador Daniel Carmon, who is nearly completing his 4-year term at the Israel embassy in New Delhi. Agriculture World in its “Israel Special” edition brings “In Conversation with the Ambassador”, the insights of the development cooperation between the two countries.

Q. What is the trajectory of growth that Israel and its agriculture have seen since independence?

A. Since independence in 1948, Israel built itself from scratch. From the influx of mere 6 lakhs, the nation strengthened itself with over 28 lakhs of the population in a short span of 5-6 years. The country endeavored of building a nation, bringing in people from different parts of the world and taught them a new way of living and thinking. We have evolved through various problems like poor infrastructure, errant rainfall, unavailability of proper education, health system, governance issues and policy to bring back Jews to ancient homeland.

Before cultivating vegetables and fruits, Israel developed a very interesting dairy industry, which is one of the most successful models worldwide. A concept is framed in dairy, where the cattle and the animals are honored and their well being is the most important thing and this connects very well with the productivity. Being independent as State and being independent in the sector of food security is how Israel has brought itself up in this time frame.

Q. What was the motivation or policy that the government and indeed the public adopted to have reached such an opulent position in Agriculture world?

A. Farmer works for himself and also for our well being. The policy of transparency and technology transfer has brought farmers closer to profitable agriculture. The institutions which connect the farmers with the information source are one of the most important factors which push this sector towards growth.

Talking of the nation-building part, the concept of rebuilding Israel was to bring Jews closer to their ancient land. Since practicing agriculture binds people emotionally to the soil, it was advised to many, to re-route their urban professional choices to farming. Agriculture was much embedded in this re-constructing of the nation, understanding the needs of the economy. A very interesting and irreplaceable way of living: Kibbutz, developed in Israel. Kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, but it began as utopian communities based on the ideology of socialism which cannot be found anywhere else.

Q. India- Israel have joined hands on many agricultural cooperation activities, how has been the experience for both the sides?

A. India-Israel cooperation is a big example of Israel’s discipline of enhancing productivity and not limiting the art to self. Jerusalem feels proud and happy to share the technical know-how with New Delhi. The expertise which Israel has gained in the agriculture sector, it wishes to replicate the same through the Indo- Israeli Agriculture Project (IIAP). In the last 10 years, cooperation led by MASHAV, with Ministry of Agriculture and State Governments has brought an affirmative change in the lives of farmers.

As of today, 22 Centre of Excellence (COE) is fully operational in India, which puts forth the Israeli technology to Indian agriculture community. The most important thing is that technology is not copied but adapted. Through these centers, various products like tomatoes, mangoes, flowers, and technology of beekeeping have been developed. In North Indian state of Haryana, a new cooperation on dairy farm and industry is on the rise. The idea is to take Israeli model of success and reproduce it in India. Presently the cooperation is between the governments and the next step would be to intervene and take it ahead with the private players.

In Gujarat, when Prime Ministers of both the countries met last year, farmer’s testimonial in favour of Israeli technology came across

in a big way. Integrating Israeli technology of agriculture in their professional way of practicing farming has multiplied the incomes of farmers by two to three times.

Q.Israel is well known for its investment in research, Presently, how much is allocated to agriculture?

A. Israel is one of the countries which invests the most in R&D. More than 4% of its GDP goes to Research and Development (including Agriculture). Technology evolution in irrigation, development of better species, fertilization and fertigation tactics, less water usage and minimum use of territory for more and better output have been few of the highlighted areas. Looking at the overall economy of Israel, relatively a smaller contribution is made to the agro R&D compared to the results it has fetched, which means employing a sophisticated method of managing agriculture. The ways, means, and management are very important and the experiences gathered through these years are very different.

Extensive extension practices are of utmost importance. Government deploys field expert for the service of the farmers, which makes him/her aware of the new technologies and latest developments. Also, relatively, Israel invests less manpower in agriculture, which projects it to be working as a developed economy. Manpower is distributed to innovative sectors including IT, cyber research, startups on communication, health solutions etc.

This Desert blooms, and when it is said, it actually means the productivity of the land that has shown miraculous results. Better and innovative Irrigation methods, development of new species and varieties which are more adaptable and adoring to the concept of more from less, have been well integrated through technology at Israeli farms. Being a farmer is not easy and all over the world, the number of farmers is dwindling, but People who go to Israel, talk about the produces and advancements.

Q. Please comment on the agricultural exchange that takes off between India & Israel?

A. Except for few clusters of products, we are self-sufficient. Food security is the new-found independence of the State. We have developed both systems and management of technology that allows rendering the best produce. Israel imports some products /elements that need to be processed. Meat is one of the products that is imported in huge quantity. Most of the vegetables and fruits are grown in the country, except a few.

More than learning, it has been a two-way street, where at one side Israel offers India better and new technology, on the other side Israel learns various things from India like India’s years of experience and clout in mango farming. Other than mango, pineapples are new for Israel and hence it builds up a strong cooperation with such exchanges.

Monika Mondal

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi


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