Kolkata, Feb 12 (PTI) A Centre of Excellence in agriculture and horticulture with Israeli help is likely to come up in Chinsurah of Hooghly district, six years after the idea was first conceived, a state government official said Tuesday.

State food processing industries and horticulture secretary Nandini Chakravorty said the centre will come up by end-2019, but did not give further details.

Chakravorty was addressing a seminar on food processing organised by the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce here.

In 2013, an Israeli envoy had first expressed interest to set up a Centre of Excellence in the state. Israel was then involved in preparing action plans in 11 states in India based on an agriculture cooperation agreement in 2006.

As of now, more than two dozen centres of excellence have come in the country with Israeli cooperation.

When the original plan was submitted for the West Bengal centre, it talked of focusing on potato cultivation.

The centre would have also adopted Israeli technology in horticulture mechanisation, protected cultivation, nursery, micro-irrigation, and post-harvest management.

All these technological interventions were aimed at increasing the farmers’ income in the state.

Chakravorty said West Bengal wants to create three packaging houses in each district under the public-private partnership mode.

The minister of the department Razzak Molla said that adopting participatory farming model is the only way for investors to get large tracts of contiguous land in the state.

Participatory farming is a tailor-made solution for allowing private investors to tie up with the farmers for contract farming. The main difference is that the state government is also a party to such agreements along with participatory farmers’ organisations to ensure transparency.

Officials said there is demand for fruit pulp from multinational companies and large brands and investors should look into this area seriously.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.