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INDIA-ISRAEL: Growing Partnership in WATER

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H.E. DR RON MALKA

The Indo-Israel partnership has proven to be beneficial for both the countries in various domains including water. This partnership is also a medium to tailor India’s current water management policies and systems to inculcate not only effective water management solutions but water conservation methods as well, writes H.E. Dr Ron Malka, Ambassador of Israel to India.

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India and Israel are cooperating intensively in the field of water management by sharing knowledge, technologies, and gained experience. The two countries are working on the ground to implement Israeli technologies and knowledge tailored to India’s local conditions and demand.

Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat conducted a historic visit to Israel as a part of the “WATEC” event in Israel in the month of October 2019. Both the countries are presently working on identifying joint areas of activities in order to implement large scale Indo-Israel Water Solutions in India.

Indian farmers have been using Israeli drip irrigation technology since 1993. Under the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project (IIAP), Israel is currently providing expertise, technical know-how and training to Indian farmers in water management practices at 28 different, fully active Centers of Excellence in India.

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A Strategic Partnership in Water was signed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. Currently, there are over 30 Israeli water projects in India. Also, over seven desalination plants in India are using Israeli desalination technologies. As a part of the strategic partnership between India and Israel, we are working towards establishing the “India-Israel Bundelkhand Uttar Pradesh Water Project”. This project aims to demonstrate large-scale solutions through three key components of the value chain.

  •  Water conservation and water efficient transportation to farmers fields: based on rainwater harvesting, minimizing infrastructure costs by placing the reservoirs as close as possible to farms, reclamation of reservoirs to optimize water-holding capacity, infiltration of the water from the upper reservoir into the existing aquifer.
  • Integrated Drip Irrigation: proposed for an area of 3660 ha, under Block Babina Dist Jhansi, covering 25 villages. The proposed area covers irrigation water sourced from the Pahuj dam. The goal is to increase the overall irrigation efficiency by implementing a pressurized pipe distribution network (HDPE/PVC) thus reducing evaporation/water loss, and by implementing Drip Irrigation, thus optimizing water use efficiency. Smart accurate irrigation will result in increased productivity, thereby increasing income levels for farmers.
  • Advanced Water practices for agriculture: This is a full end-to-end value chain approach based on Agrotechnology innovation. The ecosystem incorporates long term planning, collaborating with FPO (Farmers’ Producer Organization) to create a shared platform of infrastructure and knowledge. It Implements precision agriculture based on drip-irrigation, Ariel imaging, sensors etc., for modern agriculture infrastructures such as Greenhouse technology, new value crops, and advanced nurseries. Machinery ag-solutions enable Post-Harvest management and market linkage.

Also Read: Brazil & India: A Resilient Partnership of two Agriculture Powerhouses

The Israeli Water Story

Israel has achieved full water security despite extreme challenges of water scarcity, climate change and increasing demand for water, thanks to the “Israel model of water management”. Israel is mostly desert (60 percent of the land), its rainfall pattern is irregular, and annual average rainfall is decreasing due to climate change; Israel’s population has grown 15-fold while the country’s economy grew 70-fold. “Israel model of water management” is based on four pillars:

POLICY- State agencies have played an important role in the country becoming a world leader in water, by defining strategic water-related policies such as declaring water a state-owned resource. At the same time, the State has committed to ensuring water supply to every sector/user (agriculture, industry & households). In addition, the State has established Israel’s Water Authority, which is a single organization overseeing all water-related activities from regulation to implementation.

INFRASTRUCTURE- Israel generates state of the art water infrastructure and alternative water sources –

  • National Water System to Connect All Water Infrastructure
  • Interception of Surface Water Run-Off and Recharge

Historically, water sources for all sectors derived from the sole fresh-water lake in Israel, “Lake Kinneret” and from the coastal and mountain aquifers, which are used as reservoirs. Over the years, Israel has developed into a modern state with higher water demand, while annual rainfall levels have decreased and level of water in the lake and on the aquifers have reduced accordingly. Israel decided to tackle the challenge of water deficit by generating new alternative water sources; and in this regard, three main areas of activity were developed:

  • Desalinating Sea Water for use as Drinking WaterCurrently Israel has five large scale Desalination Stations along its coastline supplying sufficient drinking water to its citizens. These were built on the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  • Recycling Sewage Water for Agriculture Use- Over 90 percent of urban sewage Water is treated, purified and reused for Irrigation of Agricultural crops.
  • Desalinating Brackish Water for the use of Drinking and Agriculture- In places where Saline Water exists desalination stations are established and the desalinated water is used in Agriculture and civil sectors.

Also Read: UK-INDIA: Forging Mutually Beneficial Patnership in Agriculture

INNOVATION– Here are three examples of key innovations for water in Israeli:

  • Drip Irrigation- Drip Irrigation, the most efficient irrigation method in the world, was invented in Israel and attains 95 percent water use efficiency. It enables farmers to irrigate accurately and achieve maximum yields while saving water.
  • Precision Agriculture solutions benefit the farmer who will have better options to produce more and optimize natural resources. PA enables accurate irrigation by using satellite and drone images analyzing real-time climate, crop and soil data on a large scale and with high resolution.
  • Water meters technologies and management- Measuring water enables us to manage water and attain operational effectiveness using advanced water meters and real-time detection of problem situations. Accurate and reliable water flow data digitally report online water use while meter data help utilities supervise, manage and control their metering networks.

AWARENESS- A crucial component in preserving the resource. Israel educates the population in water preservation through different media. In addition, consumers are charged for the use of water, creating awareness to use water in a calculated manner.

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