statesman news service
KOLKATA, 13 JUNE: The state government is planning to export varieties of rice, potato and fruits including banana, litchi and pineapple to Israel.  
Plans are also afoot to set up an agriculture research institute in partnership with Israel.
Israeli Ambassador to India, Mr Alon Ushpiz, today met chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee at the Writers’ Buildings to discuss the issues. 
The state agriculture department will send rice, potato and fruit samples to Israel within 10 days following which the issue of exporting the items is to be finalised, said Mr Moloy Ghatak, agriculture minister.  
Apart from the common varieties of rice, the possibility of exporting the popular varieties of aromatic rice that are cultivated in Bengal will also be examined.
Exporting potatoes will help in arresting the losses incurred by potato farmers since the production is much higher compared to the demand in the state.   
The Agriculture Technological Farm to conduct research for increasing productivity and improving quality of crops, fruits and vegetables will be set up in Adisaptagram, in Hooghly. The farm will be set up jointly by the West Bengal and Israel governments. The government has already identified two acres of land for setting up the farm. A detailed project report in this regard was submitted to Mr Ushpiz today. 
Appreciating the initiatives taken by the government in agriculture sector, Mr Ushpiz said that the aim behind setting up such a research institute in Bengal is to provide guidance and utilise the state’s agriculture technology.     
Israel is a world leader in agricultural technologies despite the fact that its climate and geography are not naturally conducive to agriculture. More than half of the land area is desert and climate and lack of water resources do not favour farming. Despite this Israel has come up with successful farming technologies for arid areas.  
Mr Ushpiz had visited the state secretariat last year. He expressed Israel’s eagerness to work in the areas of dairy, horticulture, animal husbandry and food processing with the state government and also the possible areas of investments.