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The Meghalaya Government, in collaboration with Israel, will set up two Centres of Excellence (CoE) in the state to improve and promote the livelihood of farmers.
The first centre will be set up at Jongksha village in East Khasi Hils for vegetables while the second centre will be set up at Dawagre in East Garo Hills for citrus fruits, Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma said on Tuesday while addressing reporters after a meeting with the representatives of Israel led by Ambassador Ron Malka.
The state government had recently entered a partnership with the Government of Israel to establish the CoEs on high-value vegetables in the state to improve and promote the livelihood of farmers.
The centres would be important assets for tapping the diverse biodiversity and resources in the state in terms of its soil and Agro-climatic condition.
Regarding the financial implications of setting up the two centres, Sangma said that talks for setting up the centres are in the advanced stage with the Central Government.
“We hope that these proposals for setting up the CoE will move forward after this discussion and dialogue with the Israel delegation. We are expecting to complete the entire process at the earliest,” Sangma said, adding that the Centre had a rough estimate of Rs 10 crore for setting up each CoE.
“We cannot get the maximum benefit and profit to our farmers because of the lack of technology and research. We feel that with the support and collaboration (of) the Israel Government, which has been a leader in agriculture technology in the world, (we) will go a long way in enhancing productivity and earnings of all farmers in the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malka said that Meghalaya passed the special milestone by becoming part of the family of states under the Indo-Israeli agriculture project.
“As of now, there are 29 Centres of Excellence under this project all over India. In these centres, we bring our latest technology, practices and advance system that we used for advance agriculture and water management. We had a constructive discussion, and we are starting the process,” Malka said.
Malka also highlighted that Meghalaya has a huge potential, and the Indo-Israeli agriculture project would enable farmers to add value and shape a competitive advantage of their agricultural produce.
This is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of doubling the income of the farmers as agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, Malka added.
Besides this, he stated that Israel wants to increase its presence in the northeastern region by bringing in experts and technology in various fields to help the region grow.
“We are also looking for a direct flight from (the) North East to Israel,” he said, adding that the Centres of Excellence would become self-sufficient within two years, and would support themselves.
“We will create new kinds of crops and cultivation through the CoE. We have seen that these centres become self-sufficient within two years based on the experience from the other CoEs in the country,” he said.
On being asked whether Israel would help the farmers in the state market their agricultural produce, Malka responded by stating that there is a need to work on the value chains from the farmers to the end consumers if they want to double their income.
Malka said that the CoEs would try to adopt tailor-made strategies to maximise the potential for optimisation, responding to a question on whether the CoEs would focus on the development of indigenous fruits or whether they would promote new fruits.