By Bibhudatta Sahu
Odisha is becoming a new example of how foreign policy can help achieve public policy outcomes at the ground level. To boost agricultural production and farmers’ income in Odisha, the state government plans to establish a Centre for Excellence (CoE) for Mango and vegetables under the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP) in Panikoili area of the Jajpur district. The project’s primary objectives are to produce pest and disease-free vegetable and mango grafts, develop good agricultural practices through farmers’ training, and promote value addition, marketing and export by developing a post-harvest handling system. IIAP is already being implemented in over 13 states in India via the Centre of Excellence (CoE). The CoE will serve as a platform to disseminate innovative agricultural technologies and knowledge from Israel, adapted to the Indian conditions. In Odisha, Jajpur will be the first district to leverage Indo-Israel partnership in agriculture to establish the Centre for Excellence for Mango and vegetables.
According to the District Collector, Mr Chakravarti Singh Rathore, “the Centre for Excellence will provide exposure to the latest agricultural technologies from Israel to the district’s farmers. At the same time, it will pave the way to boost agricultural and horticultural production in Odisha. The core objective is to enhance farmers’ income by introducing innovative technology in agriculture, agribusiness, and food processing.”
As part of the project, the farmers of the region will be encouraged to discontinue primitive agricultural practices. The farmers will receive training to adopt advanced technologies such as protected cultivation, drip irrigation, fertigation, and efficient use of resources to enhance farm yield and income. The CoE will collaborate with knowledge experts and scientists from various state universities and Israel to conduct training to propagate advanced technology and required hardware knowledge to the farmers. Subsequently, the specialists will track the progress in the field to ensure that technology is appropriately utilized and implemented by the farmers. The farmers who will adequately implement the technology demonstrated at the CoE will act as role model for other farmers, thereby helping to transfer knowledge. Besides providing training to the farmers, the CoE will provide an opportunity to discuss and solve various issues concerning the farmers in the area.
According to Director, Horticulture Mr Lenka, the primary activities at the CoE will include standardisation and demonstration of agro-techniques for fresh high-density plantation, rejuvenating established mango orchards and inter-planting, delivery of vegetable seedlings, post-harvest management facilities, and sales outlet.
The CoE will include a hi-Tech nursery, a modern packhouse for mangoes, a hi-tech and naturally ventilated poly-house, walk-in tunnels, and net houses to assist small and large farm holders. The protected structures will be used to demonstrate the hybrid vegetables from Israel. The lead task of the CoE will beto cultivate new high quality, healthy, virus and pest-free saplings and plug seedlings through advanced techniques. After close monitoring, the knowledge experts will encourage and guide the farmers to adopt the advanced method and variety.
On 18th November, two Experts from Israel, MrDaniel Hadad and Mr Itzhak Esquira, visited Jajpur for the site selection. After inspecting the site, the Israeli experts shared their inputs with Collector cum District Magistrate, Jajpur Shri Chakravarti Singh Rathore and Mr Suryamani Maharana, Asst. Director Horticulture and their team. According to Israeliexperts Mr Daniel and Itzhak, it is critical to leverage the best available technology in the field to boost India’s agricultural and horticultural production. Due to a lack of technology and research, farmers in India still do not receive maximum benefit and profitability for their agricultural production. In this regard, India must apply the experience of a country like Israel that has pioneered advances in all aspects of agriculture. The positive intervention in agriculture and horticulture in Odisha will enhance the state’s annual production of vegetables and mangoes.
The core idea behind this project is to learn best practices from Israel, train farmers in Odisha, and achieve self-sufficiency in terms of productivity and quality so that farmers can export their products to places like Europe, West Asia, and other international destinations. In this regard, Israel’s advances in post-harvest management that include grading, packaging and marketing can pave the way for farmers in Odisha to optimise their income. Odisha’s initiative strongly dismantles the notion that foreign policy only deals with high politics and is usually detached from the ground realities. Indo-Israel cooperation has set a new benchmark for closing the gap between foreign relations and domestic necessities. Nevertheless, the project’s success will eventually depend on building and maintaining synergy between the government, farmers, knowledge experts, and the private sector.
(The author is an independent researcher graduated from TISS, Mumbai with over 8+ years of working experience in the Government and Public Sector. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.)