Maharashtra will learn Israeli technology to revive state agriculture

The Israeli govt's agricultural department will set up six centres across Maharashtra to do research.

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The Maharashtra government has decided to rope in the Israeli government's agriculture department to learn about and adopt advance agri technology and increase crop production. Israel will set up six excellence centres across the state to do research on orange, mango pomegranate, among other fruits. The centre at Jalgaon will be dedicated to research on banana.

"The move will help our farmers make use of technology. Israel does not have its own soil or water. They import both things. Yet, they are number one agricultural crop production. We are facing a severe shortage of water. So the Israeli technology will help us get maximum yield with minimum use of water," said agriculture minister Eknath Khadse.

He said agricultural growth in Maharashtra has ceased in the last several years.

"And continuous drought has worsened the situation in the state. We will work in coordination with the agriculture department of Israel. Many farmers delegations have been visiting Israel to study technology. These tours were being organised by private parties. Now we have decided to organise such tours in large numbers at government level," said Khadse.

He said in Israel, the semi-desert Negev area resembled some parts of Maharashstra. "Weather in both parts is dry, so we can easily use their technology in Maharashtra. If we want to see agriculture surviving and subsequently thriving in the state, we have no option but to maximise the use of technology," said the minister.

Meanwhile, NCP leader Jayant Patil said, "There is a 20% rise in farmers' suicides in Maharashtra. The BJP-led government has been talking about long-term solutions, but what about today? Farmers are dying without food and work. We welcome the use of technology in agriculture, but it is not going to resolve the current crisis."

He said the government was not serious and sensitive about the problem. "It has only been making announcements after announcements. Farmers are waiting for a complete waiver of loan. They should be given seeds and other monetary assistance ahead of the monsoon," added Patil.

Maharashtra witnessed 3,220 farmer suicides in 2015-16 -- highest in the last several years.

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