In 2015, when the farmer couple Hirji Bhinradia and his wife Godavari, from the village of Malpara in the Gadhada taluka of Botad, used all their savings to attend Israel’s Agriculture Fair, little did they know that the journey would change their lives.
For years, Hirji had struggled to earn profits on his soil. Acute storage of water in the district rendered his land unsuitable for cultivation, adding to his woes.
“Our land is not favourable for crop cultivation. We wanted some technology that could make the land more cultivable,” said Hirji speaking to the Times of India.
They came to know about the Agriculture Fair in Israel in 2012 but were unable to attend it at the time. Over the next three years, they saved enough money to fund their travel to Israel and participated in the fair.
Interacting with their Israeli counterparts helped the farmer couple to understand and adopt some of their technologies on their land back in Botad.
Needless to say, the application of those farming techniques has helped Hirji and Godavari cultivate dates, chikku, gooseberry, watermelon and pear, on their 40-hectare farm.
“We learnt from Israeli farmers not to allow climbers to grow much. We experimented with their methods, and it gave us better results – doubled the yield,” the farmers told TOI.
Apart from reaping benefits from the doubled yield on their 40-hectare farm, the couple is now sharing its own experience and learning with over 100 other farmers from villages in the vicinity to help them increase their productivity.
The last Wednesday of every month is a busy time for the couple as they huddle up with a group of 100 farmers from nearby villages and share new methods that could be applied to increase output manifold.
Thanks to the farmers, villages in other districts of Botad like Gadhda and Sihor have also adopted the net house and greenhouse method of Israel.
Net houses are naturally ventilated, and crops are grown inside them under favourably controlled conditions including temperature, humidity, light intensity, irrigation, etc. The method is efficient is protecting plants in adverse climatic conditions like wind and cold and also against insects and diseases.
Under the greenhouse method, plants are grown in a glass structure with equipment including screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting, that are regulated to optimise conditions for plant growth.
Though the farmers are adopting most methods, they are restricted by resources and topographical conditions while utilising a few techniques like the Israeli drip irrigation system where farmers give water inside the land to the roots of the trees.
Feature Image credit: Times of India