Indo-Israel Collaboration Paves the Way for Smart Agricultural Revolution in India

The partnership aims at introducing crop diversity, increasing productivity & increasing water use efficiency.

WD News: The strong ties between India and Israel in the field of agriculture were evident at a recently held press meet at the Centre for Excellence for Vegetables (CEV) at Gharaunda, Karnal in Haryana. Ms Anupama Madhok Sud, Director & Editor of Water Digest and some other media members, went on a guided tour to various plantation sites and demonstration zones with agriculture experts.

Dr Sudhir Yadav, Deputy Director Horticulture, CoE, Gharaunda (Karnal); Mr Muhamed Heib, Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel; Mr Ohad N Kaynar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel; and Mr Yair Eshel, Agriculture Attache at the Embassy of Israel welcomed everyone at the CEV Gharaunda and gave a briefing on Israel-India relations with a focus on agriculture, and also arranged a tour of the CEV.

Indo-Israel Agricultural Project (IIAP)
India has chosen Israel as a strategic partner (G2G) in the field of agriculture. This partnership evolved into the Indo-Israel Agricultural Project (IIAP) in 2009, under the Indo-Israel Action Plan, based on a MoU signed by agricultural ministers of India and Israel in 2006. The partnership aims at introducing crop diversity, increasing productivity & increasing water use efficiency.

Centre for Excellence (CoE)
IIAP has been implemented through the establishment of Centres of Excellence (CoE) under which Israeli technology and know-how is disseminated and tailored to suit local Indian conditions. The Federal and state Indian stakeholders lead the partnership by defining the key crops and sanctioning an activity. The Israeli stakeholder, MASHAV, guides the standards of the CoE and transfers the knowledge into IIAP.

Twenty-two CoEs are active in the 16 states that have been invited to take part in the IIAP. Each IIAP phase lasts for three years (2009-2012; 2012-2015, 2015-2018).

A total 29 Centres of Excellence (CoE) have been set up across the country under IIAP, envisioning a partnership at the national level by infusing the best practices of Israel in agricultural technology in the local communities. The 30th CoE will be launched in December 2022.

The CoEs comprise nursery management, best practices of cultivation techniques, irrigation and fertigation. Their mandate encompasses growing a variety of vegetables (tomatoes, beans), fruits (mangoes, date palm, pomegranate, citrus), apart from floriculture, beekeeping and brackish water.

CEV Gharaunda Project & Tour
The CEV Gharaunda project was established at a cost of Rs 6 crore. Spread over 9.6 ha (924 acres), the Centre for Excellence has 1.50 ha (3.75 acres) area under protected cultivation, 1.80 ha (4.50 acres) area under open fields and 2.70 ha (6.75 acres) area under organic fields.

The CEV is equipped with poly greenhouses, demonstration fields, post-harvest management equipment, cold storage unit among other infrastructure providing technical support for farmers.

The nursery here aims to demonstrate and produce commercial scale of seedlings or tree plants so that farmers can make use of high quality, uniform and healthy plants. It presents modern agro-technology, climate control components, irrigation and fertigation techniques.

On display are vegetables grown with the help of drip irrigation, low tunnel and mulching techniques even in the non-harvest seasons. The local experts explained that the harvest through such techniques can stabilise the vegetable prices that go up every year during non-harvest seasons due to disrupted supply.

The low tunnels are dug within 5-6 feet of each other and soil preparation is done before sowing. These low tunnels get better sunlight, ventilation and get water through drip irrigation and are suitable for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and melons. The mulching procedure involves simple techniques to create the tunnels. Bamboo sticks are tied to plastic sheets in a semi-circular structure to support the growing vegetable. Another plastic sheet is then placed on the structure to trap sunlight inside and create an optimal temperature for the crop to grow. The covered layer also reduces water loss and eliminates growth of weeds.

Vertical Farming
The novel concept of vertical farming (husbandry of crops), planted in vertically managed layers to harness the unaccustomed vertical area, which is otherwise left unconsidered in almost every cultivation practice, is particularly interesting. In vertical farming, along with the use of other technologies, the production which is achieved in 1000 sqm is almost equal to outside 3000-4000 sqm, as per experts. There are three systems of Vertical Farming, which include Low-Cost Systems (Bamboo Staking, Iron Staking), Medium-Cost Systems (NVPH or Naturally Ventilated Polyhouse, AINH, Walk-in-Tunnel, and Polynet), and High-Cost Systems (Hi-Tech Green House, Hydroponics, and Aeroponics).

The heartwarming results of IIAP concept, which is based on three pillars – Applied Research (providing solutions to farmers, addressing the gaps via implementation of Israeli technology and know-how tailored to local conditions, Transfer of Knowledge (Israeli experts train the Indian CoE teams), and Sustainability (CoE sells to farmers the nursery outcome, which acts as a source of income and makes it a sustainable model) are there for all to see. The farmers, women in particular, have finally found the much-needed economic freedom, aided by the assurance of high-quality cash crops in all seasons.

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