“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep His covenant of love with you, as He swore to your ancestors. … He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land — your grain, new wine and olive oil — the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land He swore to your ancestors to give you.” (Deuteronomy 7:12–13)
Israel’s largest agricultural project abroad, the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP), continues to boost quality and productivity of India’s farmers.
“Israel is a leading authority and pioneer in irrigation, purifying and water recycling techniques for agriculture, due to its vast regions of arid and semi-arid land,” writes Fresh Fruit Portal.
Israel is sharing its innovation and expertise in greenhouse, irrigation and fertigation methods via workshops to 25,000 farmers a year in ten Indo-Israel Centres of Excellence in nine states of India.
Thirty centres across India are in various stages of development thanks to a partnership that began in 2008 by MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, and India’s Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture as well as state governments and the Israeli embassy in India.
Training centres are dedicated to “growing vegetables, flowers, citrus, mango, pomegranates, dates, [and performing] beekeeping and dairy husbandry,” the MASHAV website states. “Over the last four years, since the Karnal center was set up, over 2,500 farmers from Punjab and Haryana have started using greenhouse farming for higher yield and newer varieties.”
At the centres for vegetables and fruits, farmers can purchase and plant seeds for a nominal fee. When the seedlings are ready, the farmers transplant them in their own fields.
“[It] is not possible for a single farmer to get the infrastructure that this centre has. … Huge numbers [of seedlings] we wanted; it would be more risky if we grow the seedlings ourselves. So that’s how we approached the centre,” said Ramandeep Singh Sandhu, a farmer who utilizes the CoE at Punjab.
Farmers are now growing about 6 million vegetable seedlings annually.
This is a significant increase since the first centre opened in 2011 when area farmers were only growing about half a million seedlings. Moreover, to increase diversity and profits, farmers are learning to grow different kinds of vegetables, such as chili, tomato, capsicum, cabbage, and broccoli.
Indian farmers are also learning about water-use improvements, including optimized water management, water quality, micro-irrigation and Israeli research on the soil-water-plant relationship. (MFA)
“We will set up the remaining centres in the third phase of the project 2015–18. We will also focus on modern dairy management, post harvesting and sewage water treatment for reuse in agriculture,” said Dan Allof, Counsellor at MASHAV. (Economic Times)
Meanwhile, in January, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to Israel to help introduce a “white revolution” in India — an increase in milk production.
In the birthplace of Hinduism where the cow is deified, the per capita output of milk is the lowest in the world, according to Algemeiner. In Israel, on the other hand, dairy cows are the most productive in the world; they produce 10 percent more than cows in the United States and 50 percent more than those in Germany.
Soon after, on April 15, MASHAV signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India on setting up a Center of Excellence in India’s dairy sector in the state of Haryana where two other CoEs are located. (Deccan Herald)
In the Memorandum, MASHAV committed to helping Haryana build “customized modern dairy sheds for 110 cows (with a potential of expanding it to 300 cows), calves barns, heifer sheds, a feed centre, a milking parlor, mini dairy plant, class room, a visitors’ gallery and a waste-water treatment facility.” (Mashav)
Last year, the trade officer for Indo-Israel trade facilitation at the Embassy of Israel in New Delhi, Akhil Choudhary said with Israel’s effect on India’s production, “we are talking about a three-fold increase in milk production with the same cattle population with better, hygienic and cost-effective processing facilities.” (The Dollar Business)
Beyond introducing cooling systems, biometrics and milk meters to India, MASHAV also has committed to orchestrate the transfer of viable cow embryos and frozen seed to introduce Israeli stock into India’s cattle population.
In April of this year, Israel also established the first Center of Excellence for Cut Flowers, located in India’s number-one flower-producing state, Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu already provides a quarter of India’s flower production; through the flower centre, Israel will “provide training, technology and expertise” to increase the productivity and impact of the state’s flower farmers. (MFA)