Israel looks forward to increasing cooperation with Bihar in fields like agriculture, solar energy, water harnessing and health insurance.

The Ambassador of Israel, Alon Ushpiz, said on Wednesday after an hour-long meeting with chief minister Nitish Kumar here that cooperation would be increased in agriculture sector with thrust on promotion of horticulture, dairy, fishery besides green vegetables and water area.

The cooperation in energy sector between Bihar and Israel would also be extended, particularly in the field of solar energy, he said, adding “We also intend to ensure investments in medical insurance.”

Earlier, interacting with the members of Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), he enquired about different aspects of Bihar in order to finalize work programmes related to agriculture sector. “Currently, we have work plans in eight states of India, Bihar being one of them,” he said, adding, “Two horticulture-related projects are already in the pipeline, one at Nalanda and other at Vaishali.”

The Ambassador discussed the status of dairy industry, pisciculture and aquaculture in the state, whether crops are grown in open fields or green houses, availability of land, production and marketing. He said, “We have certain technologies which we can use here to increase productivity.”

Ushpiz said, “Bihar is an integral part of our plans in agriculture and we will try to go the extra bit for the state.” He asked where his country could channelize its energies to help Bihar.

Asked which agricultural practices of Israel, which are technologically very advanced, could be implemented to increase agro produce in Bihar, the envoy said, “Your country is huge and has very fertile land, while we are very small and do not have much water or land. So, we use technology. We employ techniques for water management, improving water quality, including purification of water etc. We have the lowest percentage of water leakage in the world – about 12% – and we use 75% of our sewerage water.”

Replying to the Ambassador’s queries, Prabhat P Ghosh, director, ADRI, said, “Bihar is one of the most fertile regions of the country as it falls in the Gangetic plains. However, our potential has not been fully utilized, as technology is not very advanced. Now, development of agriculture is a priority in Bihar. We have an agriculture cabinet that includes 17 departments and is chaired by chief minister himself.”

Throwing light on Indo-Israeli relations, Ushpiz said, “We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our rich and historic relations (since the opening of Israeli embassy in India), which is not only based on values but on sharing. When we had come here in 1992, the volume of trade was about $200 million which has now increased to more than $5 billion. We also focus on research and development and have government to government channel with regard to many activities.”

The embassy’s councillor, international cooperation, science and agriculture, Uri Rubinstein said, “Our strength is in extracting maximum from each square metre – high and quality yield. So, in Bihar, we are looking towards evolution of farmers from traditional methods and diversification of crops.”

Also present at the meeting were Shimon Mercer-Wood, political affairs, embassy of Israel, Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary, ADRI, Isha Chhabra, country economist, International Growth Centre, and Chinmay Kumar.