Tel Aviv University and Tata Trusts are launching the Indian Centre for Agri & Allied Tech (I-CAT) that will bring Israeli know-how and innovation to the farmers of the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India.

The initiative, supported by the Government of Andhra Pradesh, will include an advanced R&D center, as well as activities of agricultural experts in villages and farms – aiming to overcome various technological, agronomic and economic barriers, and promote sustainable agriculture and food security. In the future, the program will be extended to all parts of India.

Assisted by TAU's Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges, the program will operate a joint TAU-Tata Trusts steering committee, collaborating with experts from both Israel and India, in order to identify problems in rural India and find potential solutions in Israel.

The program consists of five main components: experts, corporations and research institutes in Israel will adapt existing technologies and develop new solutions to meet the needs of Indian agriculture;

  • the central R&D hub to be established in Andhra Pradesh will test the various solutions under local conditions, while training local workers to operate the new technologies;

  • a network of satellite farms will conduct additional experiments, and supply farmers with guidance and various services;

  • farmers in each of the hundreds of villages throughout Andhra Pradesh will implement and test the new technologies in their own fields;

  • business models will be developed to support wide diffusion of the innovative solutions among the broader farming population.

Israel's Tel Aviv University is known for its advance research in 'arid-zone agriculture', an agricultural techniques for non-irrigated cultivation of crops, and 'Dryland farming', which is associated with drylands - dry areas characterized by a cool wet season followed by a warm dry season.

Notably, of late, a lot is being done in the field of agri-tech in India, as last week government of India's policy think-tank NITI Aayog has partnered IBM to develop a crop yield prediction model using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide real time advisory to farmers in backward states of India.

NITI Aayog has also tied up with Google to foster AI and Machine Learning ecosystem in India.

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