India, Israel sign 3-year work programme for cooperation in agriculture

New Delhi, May 24 (Agency) India and Israel have signed a three-year joint work programme till 2023 with an aim to enhance cooperation in the field of agriculture, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Monday. So far, four such joint work programmes have been successfully completed. Under this programme, Centres of Excellence (CoEs) were set up to train farmers about Israeli farm and water technologies. However, under the new work programme, Villages of Excellence (VoE) — a model ecosystem in agriculture — will be created across eight states alongside 13 CoEs within 75 villages and will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms based on IIAP standards.

‘India and Israel have had bilateral relations since 1993 in the agricultural sector. This is the 5th Indo-Israel Agriculture Action Plan (IIAP). So far, we have successfully completed four action plans,’ an official statement quoted Tomar saying at the work programme signing ceremony. This new work programme will further strengthen the bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture for the benefit of the farming community. Asserting that the CoEs set up under these Israeli-based action plans are playing an important role in doubling farmers’ income, Tomar said the exchange of technology between India and Israel will greatly improve the productivity and quality of horticulture, thereby increasing the income of farmers.

So far, 29 Centres of Excellence (CoEs) are operational in 12 states in the country. Every year, these CoEs produce more than 25 million quality vegetable seedlings, more than 3,87,000 quality fruit plants and train more than 1.2 lakh farmers about the latest technology in the field of horticulture. Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal said these CoEs established under the IIAP have become epicentres of transformation in the horticulture sector. ‘Our focus during the new work programme will be to convert the villages surrounding these CoEs into ‘Villages of Excellence’ through massive outreach programmes,’ he said.

Ambassador of Israel to India Ron Malka said: “The three-year work programme (2021-2023) reflects the strength of our growing partnership and will benefit local farmers both through the CoEs and the Villages of Excellence”. The work programme will aim to grow existing CoEs, establish new centers, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the CoE into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration, he added. Junior Agriculture Ministers Parshottam Rupala and Kailash Choudhary and senior officers from the Israeli government were present at the signing ceremony.