Joint Indo-Israel work in 20 projects

Hyderabad: India and Israel are set to work together in as many as 20 agriculture and water-related projects by creating Centers of Excellence (CoEs) across India, Israeli Ambassador Alon Ushpiz said today. He said one such CoE will be inaugurated next month at Sirsa, Haryana and it will focus of fruit research.

"We finished the first one (CoE) about a year ago and it is focused on vegetables. Probably in a month we are going to inaugurate the second one which is focused on fruits. At the end of the day we are speaking of more than 20 projects and many of them (through) CoEs," Ushpiz told PTI. Both the Governments are planning to create a fund dedicated to agricultural co-operation with contribution of USD 25 million each, Israel Agriculture Minister Orit Noked said earlier.

India and Israel have identified a number of fields for potential collaboration, including dairy production, post- harvest technologies, micro-irrigation and food processing, Ushpiz said. CoEs will become platforms to introduce technologies and farmers of both the countries can use them to achieve higher quality of products and better prices, he explained.

To query on the Free Trade Agreement with India, the diplomat said it is expected to be signed by 2012-end. "I think it will take additional couple of rounds (for signing the FTA). The issues are complicated and we will have to discuss all the issues." Last year, the trade between India and Israel stood at USD 4.7 billion.