Israeli companies interested in joint ventures with Indian firms

V. Sridhar

Bangalore: Israeli companies with expertise in niche areas are looking to develop ties with Indian firms to exploit markets in third world countries. Speaking to The Hindu, Orna Sagiv, Consul-General at the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, said: “Israeli companies need not be seen as competitors to Indian companies but as complementing them by providing expertise in key areas.”

Although Ms. Sagiv acknowledged that most of the technological expertise in several fields was a spinoff from defence and security applications developed by Israeli companies, the expertise is by now means confined to these areas alone. Information technology, telecommunications, automotives, renewable energy agriculture, water use and management and biotechnology are some of the areas in which Israeli companies are interested in developing partnerships with Indian companies. Another significant area of collaboration relates to aerospace and avionics, but Ms. Sagiv said she would rather speak about civilian cooperation.

The two-way trade between India and Israel increased from $ 200 million in 1992, when diplomatic relations were established, to $4 billion in 2008. Ms. Sagiv said although Israeli IT companies were much smaller than their Indian counterparts, “They are well equipped to offer firewall solutions, for instance.”

Ms. Sagiv said solutions for dryland farming practices developed by Israeli scientists, working in collaboration with farmers and Israeli companies, could be deployed in India. “Israel has much more to offer than drip irrigation, which was developed in the 1960s,” she remarked. Israel, which has always faced a shortage of water, does not grow water-intensive crops such as rice and cotton, but focusses attention on other crops which can be cultivated without wastage of precious water, she said.

“The trick is to supply produce during the off-season to markets in advanced countries such as in Europe in order to ensure better prices,” she remarked. For instance, Israeli farmers grow and supply strawberries in the winter, which at that time get far higher prices in Europe, she said.

The average annual milk yield from a cow in Israel is about 12,000 litres, which Ms. Sagiv claimed was among the highest in the world. This was because the entire production process is managed scientifically, she added.

Israel recycles about three-fourths of the water that is consumed. “In two years, we want to increase this to 95 per cent,’ Ms. Sagiv said. “Although the recycled water is fit for human consumption, for psychological reasons, we use it for agriculture.” A lot of the drinking water comes from the desalination plants, which are among the biggest in the world, she added.

Asked if Israeli companies would be participating in the Global Investors’ Meet scheduled in Bangalore in June, Ms. Sagiv said she is not aware of it. There are about 100 Israeli companies in India. Among the active companies in Bangalore is a real estate company, Elbit Imaging, which has interests in real estate, hospitals and now agriculture and dairy.

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