India and Israel will collaborate to establish 16 centres of excellence (CoE) in agriculture under the ongoing Indo-Israel Agricultural Project. On completion, the total number of CoEs operating in India will increase to 45, and cover 21 states, an Israel Embassy official said.

The focus area for each centre will depend upon the local requirement and will be finalised by respective state governments. Israel’s contribution to the project comes in the form of technical assistance, resource persons and training programmes offered in India and Israel.

In a media interaction during a visit to the CoE for Vegetables in Gharaunda, Karnal, Haryana, Sudhir Kumar Yadav, Deputy Director (Horticulture), Haryana said the CoE Gharaunda has been established to demonstrate the protected cultivation technology of high-value vegetables. Since the start of the India-Israel project, the area under protected cultivation has increased from 61 acres to over 3,000 acres, he said.

The CoE demonstrates the technology of micro-irrigation with different types of micro-irrigation systems and offers demonstration classes for farmers on how to produce high-quality diseases free, healthy seedlings in the soil in addition to providing the technical know-how and training to farmers. The demand for seedlings from CoEs in Haryana alone has gone up from 20 lakh in 2011 to over 2 crores this year, Yadav said.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), 29 CoEs’ are fully active in twelve states (Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal). The objective is to have at least one CoE in each state.

Each CoE specializes in some sub-segments like vegetables, citrus, pomegranates, mangoes etc.

One of the recently set up CoEs for vegetables in Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh) plans seedling production of tomato, pepper, brinjal, chilli, cucumber, tomato, pepper, brinjal, chilli and exotic vegetables in the hi-tech climate-controlled greenhouse. This centre will demonstrate farming with fertigation and chemigation systems. Demonstrations of the installation of seepage, sprinkler irrigation and other plastic culture applications are also planned.

India and Israel signed a comprehensive work plan for cooperation in agriculture on May 10, 2006. The bilateral projects are implemented through MASHAV (Center for International Cooperation of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and CINADCO (Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development).

Agricultural cooperation between the two sides is formalized through three-year action plans. The two sides are currently implementing the fifth phase of the joint action plan (2021-23), MEA notes.

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