Thousands of olive plants will be nurtured to green the Rajasthan desert once Israel and India set their action plan for agriculture in motion.
As both countries celebrate 60 years of their independence, agriculture is the new frontier and Israel will post a "very senior level official" as full-time agricultural attaché at their embassy in New Delhi, diplomatic sources told HT.
The plan to appoint an agriculture attache was finalised when Israel’s agriculture minister Shalom Simhon visited India earlier this year and visited Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and signed a memorandum of understanding for ten million dollars to augment agriculture cooperation.
The attache’s role would be to monitor ongoing projects, initiate new ones and connect Israeli agri-tech firms with Indian counterparts.
Israel is credited with greening the Negev desert and performing what has been hailed as a "miracle".
The three-year action plan focuses on water management, water recycling, re-use of urban water and industrial water for agriculture, green houses, protected crops, post harvest and incorporation of the private sectors — in Israel and in India — to join forces and aid in upgrading agricultural technologies.
In Rajasthan, the plan entails a demonstration area and introduction of technologies and practices of recycled water for agriculture, aimed initially at bringing large areas of desert land under olive cultivation.
An existing recycling facility in Jaipur will be used as a training and instructions facility. In Maharashtra, various projects are planned including grape, pomegranate and mango harvesting.
Although hesitant to speak about bilateral collaboration in defence (which is slated to cross three billion dollars), or future satellite launches, bilateral collaboration in agriculture, particularly in the context of spiraling food prices globally, is what Israel’s Ambassador Mark Sofer called a "win-win situation."
"With food prices increasing at an alarming rate, Israel and India will utilise their joint ability and knowhow to reduce costs and increase (food) production," Sofer told Hindustan Times.
"The potential for growth in this area and the benefits which will accrue from it, give true credence to the faith that this is the sphere of activity which should underpin our relations in the years to come," Sofer said.