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Benjamin Netanyahu in India — Next stop Gujarat: farming centre of excellence, centre for start-ups

The 10.5-hectare centre of excellence has been set under the joint initiative Indo-Israel Agricultural Project (IIAP).

Written by Parimal A Dabhi , Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad | Updated: January 16, 2018 2:20:36 am
benjamin netanyahu, israel, pm narendra modi, benjamin netanyahu Gujarat visit, india israel defence relation, india israel meeting, modi benjamin netanyahu india visit, indian express PM Modi (right) and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (Express Photo by Renuka Puri)

On their trip to Gujarat Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu will visit a Centre of Excellence for Vegetables in Vadrad village, Sabarknatha, as well as a new campus for an incubation centre for start-ups in Dev Dholera village on Ahmedabad’s outskirts.

Vadrad

The 10.5-hectare centre of excellence has been set under the joint initiative Indo-Israel Agricultural Project (IIAP). It was inaugurated by then chief minister Anandiben Patel in 2015, one of the eight such centres envisioned under IIAP to train farmers in protective and precision farming, said deputy director (horticulture) of Sabarkantha J K Patel, who is in-charge of the centre. Patel said the centre has been training farmers in using Israeli technology and also giving them healthy saplings from their own seeds. “We take seeds from farmers, raise saplings from these and then give them back at Re 1 per sapling,” Patel said. “Following a ‘seeing is believing’ principle, we give live demonstrations of precision and protective farming to farmers.”

Also Read | How India-Israel ‘marriage made in heaven’ is shaped by geopolitics

Patel said around 10,000 farmers have been trained in three years and more than 35,000 have visited. The farmers are also given free advisories on various problems.

“A Centre of Excellence for Mangoes is in Talala of Gir Somnath, and one for dates in Bhuj will be jointly inaugurated through a web link by the two PMs on January 17,” said Patel. He added five more centres are planned — in Mehsana, Valsad, Anand, Porbandar and Rajkot, for lemon, flowers, banana, vegetable and fruits respectively.

Kalpesh Patel of Prantij, one among 500 farmers who will be present when the PMs visit, said, “I have a 22-bigha farm and cultivate cauliflower. During July, my saplings used to develop disease; now, I am getting saplings prepared at the centre and my problem has gone. The saplings are prepared in 22 days when it used to take me 30-35 days to do so earlier, so my crop reaches the market around 10-15 days before other farmers’.”

Dev Dholera

Designed as a future home for start-ups of India and abroad, the campus of icreate spans 34 acres. The two PMs will take part in its inauguration and a start-up exhibition, and interact with entrepreneurs, after stopping over at Sabarmati Ashram. While the campus is new, icreate was launched by Modi in 2011, when he was chief minister.

“Icreate offers a launching pad for Israeli innovators who would like to come and gain access to the huge market that India offers. We will support them, provide them with mentors, knowledge marketing and market access,” an official of icreate said.

Icreate is an incubation partner in the India-Israel Innovation Bridge launched by the two leaders in 2017. T-Hub of Hyderabad and Pears Program for Global Innovation of Israel are the other partners of this joint initiative of the Israel Innovation Authority and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, GoI. “We have incubated 45 start-ups and currently there are at least 11 incubates on the campus,” the official said. Among important MoUs signed is one with Cisco for an Internet of Things (IoT) innovation hub at the new campus.

Vaibhav Jain is co-founder and CEO of Hubilo, an event tech start-up incubated here with a seed fund of Rs 15 lakh in 2015. Jain said, “They not only train your mind to ask the right questions, but also find solutions. I also learnt how to build a team with little resources.”

Netanyahu tour diary

Ready for yoga
As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrapped up his remarks after joint press statements Monday, he told India’s PM Narendra Modi: “My friend Narendra… anytime you want to do yoga a class with me… it is a big stretch but I will be there. Trust me.” This was met with peals of laughter from both sides, and Modi embraced him.

Country colours
As PM Modi hosted his friend “Bibi” for a private dinner, along with his wife Sara, the Prime Minister’s residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg was lit up in Indian and Israeli flag colours. Lighting up the PM’s residence with flag colours is a novel method being used by New Delhi.

Protests in Delhi
The day Netanyahu visited, Left parties, students, and various civil society groups staged separate protests near the Israel Embassy. At the protest by Left parties, Prakash Karat (CPM) said: “Israel continues to occupy Palestine for 50 years now. We don’t want leaders of such countries to come here… Welcoming the PM of such a country would amount to giving this (occupation) legitimacy… PM Modi is openly supporting Israel. He only visited Israeli areas during his visit, did not go to the Palestinian areas.” D Raja (CPI) said: “India is one of the first non-aligned countries, which recognised the Palestine state and liberation. Israel continues to occupy Palestinian territories illegally, and is suppressing the struggles of the Palestinian people.” Ravi Rai, state secretary of CPI(ML-Liberation) said the government should feel ashamed “for betraying India’s legacy of standing up to imperialism”. Jakub Crcha of Slovakia was at the protest because of “illegal occupation of Palestine, and abuse of human rights”. Isabella Cassano of the US said inviting Netanyahu was an “insult to the past of India and Palestine”.

Another protest called under the banner of ‘United Against Hate’ included students of Jamia Millia Islamia and organisations such as All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushwarat.

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