An Israeli team to train Maharashtra farmers

Israeli VTT team with members of RC Bombay Queen City.
Israeli VTT team with members of RC Bombay Queen City.

Agricultural Revolution, a dream

The plight of Indian farmers especially in drought prone areas is well known, and the media doesn’t really give the whole picture. The reality in these areas is scary. Our survival is dependent on farmers and yet seldom do people think about their progress and enrichment. Government plans work at a different level but seldom the benefits reach the farmers.
Israel has experienced a ­revolution in horticulture. Even though it’s a small country, Israelis say they have the ­ability to provide food to the entire world. Size and volume of various ­agricultural products seems to confirm their tall claim.

So Rotary Club of Bombay Queen City, D 3140, worked for almost 18 months to bring a Vocational Training Team (VTT) from Israel comprising three agricultural experts namely — Eitan Pe’er, Yaacov and Ofra Bar-Am. They reached Mumbai on Feb 1.

Training Programme

A high power seminar was organised the same day at Indian Merchants Chamber which was attended by Rotarians, progressive farmers, water management experts and innovative seed manufacturers. The real action began in Jalna from February 2-5, and Aurangabad Feb 7-11 with orientation of farmers, rural youth and extension functionaries followed by:

Field visits to a number of farms
Training programmes in soil management and fertilisation
Crop management under controlled conditions
Planting methods and water management
Pest and disease management of vegetables
Marketing and post harvest management and
Women’s empowerment through agriculture.

The objective of inviting the VTT was to enhance our farmers’productivity using the most modern technology from Israel, conserve water in the drought affected Marathwada region resulting in higher income in the hands of the farmers and ultimately prevent farmers’ suicides.

The team attended the Rotary District 3140 Conference, where they presented their work.
RC Queen City is giving this ­project a time frame of three to five years, confining it to the two districts of Jalna and Aurangabad. If the desired success is achieved, the project will be replicated in other districts.

Care and gratitude

The Club is grateful to Rtn Ravi ­Harlalka for mooting this idea, Rtn Ralphy ­Jhirad for visiting Israel ­several times for this purpose, forming sister club relationship with Rotary Club of Ramale, Israel, and handpicking the three horticulture experts to visit India; and Rotarians Amla Ruia, Vinod Bhimrajka and Padmakar Nandekar for taking extremely good care of the VTT members in Mumbai.
President of the Club Murari said the Israeli VTT team’s visit was a ­significant cross country project which “could bring revolutionary results in the coming years in the agricultural sector. There were ­difficulties at every stage, but our ­Rotarians made this possible. The media coverage in the two Marathwada ­districts we got was heartwarming.”

Future plans

The project is now finding support from many, including leading seed manufacturer Rtn Rajendra Barwale of Mahyco Seeds who says, “introducing Israeli technique to Indian farmers is an excellent idea. I have also travelled to Israel a few times to learn their modern techniques. But to bring about change in agriculture takes time and we need to give the VTT project a time span of 3-5 years to see results.”
The next step is to send Krishi Vigyan Kendra scientists and farmers to Israel to gain first-hand experience of the horticulture revolution there.

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