Shillong:Israel has proposed to set up two the Centres of Excellence in Meghalaya, which will focus on high-value vegetables and citrus fruits.
"The first centre will be set up at Jongksha village in East Khasi Hills district for high-value vegetables and another at Dawagre, East Garo Hills for citrus fruits," Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told reporters after an Indo-Israel Economic Cooperation dialogue on Horticulture projects with Ambassador of Israel to India, Dr Ron Malka here on Tuesday.
Sangma said that the discussion for setting up of the centres is at an advanced stage and the government has been discussing with the Government of India and with the Government of Israel.
The Chief Minister was hopeful that after today's dialogue the proposal for the two Centres of Excellence will move forward and soon complete the entire process.The two Centres of Excellence will be funded by the central government at an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore each.
"This is an important project because we feel that technology plays an important role in agriculture and horticulture. Keeping in mind the produce that we have in our state and because of the lack of technology and research, we are not able to get maximum benefit and profitability for our farmers," Sangma said.
"... with the support and collaboration with the Israel government which has been the leader in Agriculture technology in the world, this collaboration will go a long way in ensuring that we can help and enhance the productivity of all farmers in Meghalaya," the Chief Minister underscored.
The Centre of Excellence is important for tapping the diverse biodiversity and available resources in the state in terms of its soil and agro-climatic condition.Terming the dialogue as a "special milestone" with Meghalaya becoming part of the family of the States which are part of the Indo-Israeli agriculture project, Ambassador Dr. Malka said, Israel is planning to help the farmers of Meghalaya how to bring added value chain and shape a competitive advantage of their agricultural produce.
"We will be creating new kinds of crops and cultivation through the Centre of Excellence. We have seen that these centres become self-sufficient within two years on the basis of the experience from the other Centre of Excellences in the country," the Israeli diplomat informed.
"This is part of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi's vision of doubling the income of the farmers, adding that agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy," he added.
Furthermore, Dr. Malka informed that Israel will help the farmers in the State to market their agricultural produce, if they want to double the income of the farmers then there is a need to closely work on the value chains from the farmers to the end consumers.
"We are going to help the farmers to market their agriculture produce. Mostly, we prefer organic agriculture but it is not a necessity, again we have the objective, we have some constraints one of them being organic or not organic but eventually we want to maximise the potential that is here and we will tailor make solutions that will enable us to increase the income of the farmers to use and implement advance technologies to make the farmers in much higher esteem using hi-tech farming," the Israeli diplomat said. (UNI)