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Mother of all study tours: 1000 Telangana officials to learn agro skills in Israel

The opposition has criticised the study tour describing it as sheer waste of public money.

india Updated: Nov 17, 2017 17:01 IST
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Telangana,Study tour,Israeli agricultural techniques
Automatic sprinklers system (Irrigation robot) Irrigates a field in Emek Hefer, Israel.(Shutterstock)

Nearly 1,000 officers of agriculture and horticulture departments of the Telangana government are scheduled to fly to Israel in December on a study tour for skill enhancement and learning hi-tech agriculture practices.

The officials will spend a minimum of 15 days to a maximum of three weeks in Israel, undertake field visits and interact with local farmers and agriculture experts, besides learning modern methods of cultivation and water harvesting techniques.

The tour, which official sources said will cost the Telangana government an estimated Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore, has come under fire from the opposition Congress which described the exercise as sheer waste of public money.

Official sources said the tour will include officials ranging from field officers and technical staff to officials of various heads of department ranks in both agriculture and horticulture wings. The estimated expenditure of Rs 25 cr to Rs 30 cr includes cost of transportation, boarding and lodging and field visits.

“It’s big money, but is worth spending. It is not just a flying visit or holiday junket. It helps in expanding the horizons of the knowledge of the officials and change their mind set. All these days, our officials have been like frogs in the well without any skill enhancement and functioning in a routine manner. The tour will help them to gain both theoretical and practical knowledge of the modern methods of cultivation and new technologies,” Telangana agriculture secretary C Parthasarthy told Hindustan Times.

The modalities of the official tour are being worked out and will be finalised once the training module is decided in consultation with the Israeli government, he said.

Parthasarthy said Israel was chosen for the official tour, because it was a pioneer in the modern agriculture techniques. “The Israelis are known for intensive cultivation with less water but with high productivity in agriculture using hi-tech methods. They install sensors near the crops so that whenever the water supply is less, they give signals and water is released automatically into the fields. Like power grid, they have water grids, which measure the quantum of water released into fields and farmers are charged accordingly,” he said.

The senior IAS officer said the Israelis have also mastered post-harvest management with simplified methods of picking and grading of agriculture produce. They have warehouses and processing units just adjacent to their farms so that they cut down transportation costs.

“They are also known for robotic cultivation and maintenance of dairy farms. “Just 10 people can manage hundreds of cows and buffalos with the help of robots,” he said.

In the next phase, the Telangana government is planning to send a select group of farmers as well to Israel. These ‘model farmers’ are likely to be identified by the farmers’ coordination committees to be set up shortly with the ruling party-affiliated famers.

The opposition is not impressed by the government’s priorities with the Congress saying the study tour is an unnecessary replication of a similar exercise in 1999 in undivided Andhra Pradesh.

“Where is the need to send so many officers? In fact, during the combined Andhra Pradesh regime itself, several officials visited Israel in the name of study tours. The Israel method of cultivation is already being implemented in Kuppam of Chittoor district. What is new that these officials are going to learn?” Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Dr Dasoju Sravan asked.

First Published: Nov 17, 2017 13:53 IST