Former Mashav attaché in India, Uri Rubinstein, with Indian farmers at Tamil Nadu in 2013. (Credit: Israeli Embassy in New Delhi).

Israeli-Indian agricultural cooperation springs forward

With 28 Agricultural Centers of Excellence already in the works throughout Asia’s expansive subcontinent, longtime Israeli and Indian partners are eyeing the seaside state of Goa as a potential next target for cooperation on farming.

Indian farmers in Pusa working with former Israeli agriculture minister Orit Noked in 2008 (credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN NEW DELHI)

“They don’t have enough food production and enough effective agricultural production, and they also have a growing tourism industry that needs prime products – dairy, vegetables,” David Akov, consul-general at the Israeli consulate in Mumbai, told The Jerusalem Post this week.

Across India, Israeli and Indian government bodies have long been working together on the Indo-Israel Agricultural Project, the largest project worldwide under the umbrella of Mashav: Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Foreign Ministry. Alongside the Indian Agriculture Ministry’s National Horticulture Mission, the Israeli embassy and the Indian state and federal governments, Mashav has been actively planning 28 Agricultural Centers of Excellence around the country – seven of which are already operational.

“There is a good synergy between Israel and India [about] the way we want things to be, the way we analyze and react to different challenges,” Dan Alluf, the Mashav agriculture counselor at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, told the Post.

Thus far, 28 Centers of Excellence are either already open or planned in nine Indian states: Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. While only seven are thus far fully functional at this point, nine others are already in advanced stages of completion, Alluf explained.

“The general concept is that Israeli government – Mashav – brings technology and experts according to the demands and the requirements of the local governments,” said Ohad Horsandi, spokesman for the embassy.

At the centers, each of which focuses on different crop types, Israeli experts come to train Indian professional farmers, who then carry on the knowledge to other local farmers, through what Alluf describes as a “professional revolution.” This form of extension farming, in which Israelis “train the trainers,” is one of four pillars common to all the centers.

The other three pillars include bringing Israeli technology and know-how to the centers and adapting to Indian needs, identifying progressive local farmers and eventually making the centers self-sustainable, according to Alluf.

The longest operating center – at Karnal in Haryana, which opened in 2011 – is the first center to become self-reliant and profitable. At Karnal, local farmers have diversified their crops and are now paying to germinate their seeds in a hi-tech nursery with pest control and irrigation abilities, Alluf said.

“The plant that the farmer gets to start the season is a very good plant,” he added. “What I see here is amazing in terms of the scale and the impact it has on the surroundings.”  Continue reading at JPost.com…

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