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AHEAD OF Israel President Reuven Rivlin’s trip to India from November 15-20, Yuval Fuchs, deputy director of MASHAV, Israel’s international development agency was on his maiden visit to India. The agency has been working in the country for nearly a decade, and as India’s relationship with Israel, so has MASHAV’s engagement in the country.
With over 10 “centres of excellence” across the country working largely in agricultural innovations, Fuchs hopes that MASHAV will continue to assist Indian farmers and help reduce poverty in the country.
“India has had great success in reducing extreme poverty. Even now, about 20 per cent of the world’s poor are in India. With a concerted effort, we can halve, even bring down that number to zero. Israel and MASHAV would like to play a role in that, “ Fuchs told The Indian Express.
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The centres of excellence, across various states, help farmers adopt new techniques and innovate — from drip irrigation, to breeding bees that make reduce the need for manual pollination. The key to the programme, according to Fuchs, is “keeping local conditions — ecology, water, soil conditions — in mind while developing solutions… we are not seeking to patronise anybody but rather, work with local communities to develop themselves.”
Fuchs also said that Israeli companies could help India in “post-harvest” activities further down the value-chain including cold-storage and transportation. “Israel exports its agricultural products across Europe and the West. There is knowledge to be shared on ways of increasing quality as well as quantity through the entire agricultural value-chain… the sky is the limit when you think about increasing innovations and collaboration,” he said.
MASHAV’s most prominent projects in India include dairy farming in Haryana, horticulture in Rajasthan and Maharashtra, among others. “We have been working with the Central government, states and local partners and the response has been encouraging. More and more states are seeking to engage with the project. We are also working with issues of healthcare, renewable energy, community policing, etc.,” said Fuchs.
Hundreds of farmers and experts have also been to Haifa in Israel for training over the years. In fact, according to Fuchs, MASHAV engages with and trains citizens from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations — including Arab nations.