Israel- Changing the face of Indian agriculture

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

Based on Israel's unique expertise in Agriculture, India and Israel have signed the Agreement for Agricultural Cooperation in 2006. This evolved into Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP), MIDH (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture) and MASHAV -Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

IIAP's main Goals are:

1. Increasing crop diversity

2. Increasing productivity

3. Increasing resources use efficiency

Aiming to strengthen partnership in the farm sector, India and Israel today said they are working on a five-year plan for cooperation in agriculture and water.

A three-year joint programme (2018-20) has already commenced, under which the Centres of Excellence (COEs) are being set up across the country to train farmers about Israeli farm and water technologies.

As many as 28 such centres are being set up under the programme.

Within this framework, the State of Israel is contributing its best-practices and knowhow, and provides capacity building through professional training programs by MASHAV, conducted both in Israel and in India.

To achieve the goals of the cooperation agreement, it was decided to establish “Agricultural Centers of Excellence” (CoE), funded by both the Federal Government NHM and by individual State Governments, that are also responsible to allocate land and professional manpower.

Agricultural Centers of Excellence

The Centers of Excellence provide a suitable platform for a rapid transfer of technology to the farmers. Protected cultivation, drip irrigation and fertigation, canopy management, nursery production, Integrated Pest Management technologies are demonstrated at the centers and later adopted by the farmers to increase their yields and income.  

The Centers of Excellence target both small and large farm holders, thus offering a wide range of agricultural practices in order to enable all to benefit from the new technologies. 

When asked his opinion for taking Indo-Israel relations beyond diamonds and defence, Netanyahu had a short, candid answer: Free trade agreements or at least, moving in that direction, as he put it. To illustrate his point, Netanyahu gave the example of the auto industry. "India has a very well-known auto industry," he said but pointed out that though Israel's auto industry was just five years old, it was already turning out to be a leader in the field. "We have 500 start-ups that just deal with automotive technology or autonomous vehicles. Because [going forward] 85% of a car is going to be software and just 15% will be hardware," he explained. In other words, cars of the future will be "basically a computer on wheels", and this is where Israel is a pioneer. "Our car industry receives billions of dollars of investments every year. Why shouldn't we have the same partnership between us and Indian car manufacturers?  And this can happen everywhere, be it digital health, water, energy, transportation, IT... And all this is before you discuss security," said Netanyahu.

He was equally candid in claiming that "The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is an innovation nation. India has great innovation. In Silicon Valley, I always say, you hear two dialects: You hear Hindi and Hebrew. Sometimes you hear a little English, too. I think this visit will help secure this partnership which is so natural and promising."

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