Israeli Technology is Helping Grow More Tomatoes In Tamil Nadu & Mangoes in Maharashtra

Israeli Technology is Helping Grow More Tomatoes In Tamil Nadu & Mangoes in Maharashtra

Israeli Technology is Helping Grow More Tomatoes In Tamil Nadu & Mangoes in Maharashtra

SWAPNA MERLIN 7 March, 2018

Drip irrigation in tomato cultivation | MASHAV, Israel embassy in India

Israel has set up 23 centres across India to share its unique knowledge on agriculture using less water and other innovative techniques. 

New Delhi: From increasing tomato yields in Tamil Nadu to helping farmers grow crops in the deserts of Rajasthan, the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project over the last decade has been a fruitful one. And there’s no bigger sign of the successful partnership than Israel’s 23rd agricultural center of excellence was inaugurated Wednesday at Mizoram.

“We along with the Indian government are planning to spread to other states in the region, but as of now the Mizoram centre will be catering to the northeast region as a whole,” said Dan Alluf, Agriculture Counsellor of Agriculture at MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation).

Alluf said MASHAV’s biggest agricultural projects are in India, and the nation has been at the focus of their work.

The Indo-Israel Agriculture Project was initiated in 2006 as a result of an agreement signed between the two nations. Under this project, 22 agricultural centers of excellence have been set up in 16 states so far and have helped in transferring Israeli agricultural technologies and knowledge to Indian farmers.

The centre in Mizoram will focus on citrus fruits, but over the years the initiative has helped in regions across India. Among the major contributions of the initiative include protected cultivation, where crops like vegetables are grown in controlled conditions in polyhouses.

In Haryana, the use of Israeli techniques has resulted in higher yields of tomato, cucumber and capsicum. In Tamil Nadu, the use of plastic mulching has boosted yields of tomato farms by almost four times.

Mulching in tomato cultivation under polyhouse, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu

“Generally, 15-17 tonnes of tomatoes are harvested per acre. After implementing mulching, combined with drip irrigation, we have harvested up to 54 tonnes per acre,” said Srinivasan K, who heads the implementation of the project’s initiatives in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district.

In plastic mulching, the soil is covered using a special plastic sheet imported from Israel to retain moisture, improve microbial activity in the soil and control the growth of weeds.

“It is also economical; one acre requires Rs 30,000 for mulching. This imported sheet from Israel can be used up to two years” Srinivasan said.

Tomato cultivation in polyhouse, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu

In Maharashtra, experiments to combine Israeli mango varieties with local ones has helped reduce the height of the trees from 40 feet to 15 feet.

“By this the deficiency of labour has been tackled greatly. Field operations like spraying and harvesting is made very easy” said Dr. Mahesh Kulkarni, who implements projects of the centre in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.

Ridge-bed system in citrus, Kota

Six centres that were set up in Rajasthan help farmers in arid areas with drip irrigation technology. A centre working on citrus crops has adopted a ridge-bed system over about 45,000 hectares in Kota district. This has helped farmers save their crop from water stagnation and grow multiple crops like coriander and fenugreek, alongside the citrus trees.

Apart from the agriculture project between the two nations, there’s now a three-year joint agriculture programme till 2020, which will also focus on the use of recycled water.

“We want to introduce more post-harvest solutions, increase pollination techniques that can make changes in protected cultivation, improve irrigation practices, introduce recycled water usage and extend the shelf life of agricultural products” Alluf said.

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