Israel Ponders over Agriculture Centres of Excellence in AP, Telangana

Stressing on 'development diplomacy' with India, Israel's Ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon, on Wednesday said the country is considering setting up a couple of Centres of Excellence (CoE) in the field of agriculture in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . Cameron said that they have just finished the second phase of the long-term project -- Indo-Israeli Agriculture Project (IIAP) -- with the participation of both central as well as state governments a year ago. Telangana and AP are on the third phase of IIAP. He will be meeting the AP CM on Thursday and will also be meeting the Telangana CM soon. Then we will set the stage for cooperation in the field of agriculture. They have plans of building two CoEs in AP, and may be one or two CoEs in Telangana depending on the feedback. India and Israel signed an agreement for agricultural cooperation in 2006, which led to the evolution of IIAP. The project is being implemented by MIDH (Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture) and MASHAV - Israel's agency for international development cooperation under the ministry of foreign affairs. The diplomat, who is currently touring the two Telugu speaking states, pointed out that once IIAP takes off in both the states, he will focus on encouraging more private participation in agriculture in India.

Speaking about other areas of collaboration between the two nations, he said Israel is keen on engaging in areas such as water management, water desalination, recycling, conservation and healthcare, among others. Israel has a proven track record in water management technologies as over 60 percent of the country is made up of desert and invented the concept of drip irrigation, which is being widely used in water scarce regions of the country. On trade relations, he said that over the last 25 years of Indo-Israeli relationship, trade has grown from $200 million to $6 billion (2014-15). He said the two countries must work towards finalising the long-pending FT) to boost trade ties. Eight rounds of negotiations have already been held between both the two nations on the FTA.

Earlier in the day, he also visited premier B-School, Indian School of Business, and incubator T-Hub. Carmon said there is a lot of potential to boost academic ties between the varsities of both the countries. He said that over 10 percent of the foreign students studying in Israel are from India.

He rooted for enhanced collaboration between both the countries on boosting innovation by engaging with startups. While Indo-Israel defence ties have come a long way with Israel being one of the largest exporter of defence equipment, Daniel Carmon said he wants to work towards improving civilian ties by focusing on areas such as tourism, education and healthcare, among others.

By BOA Bureau