The three communal irrigation projects will cover 66 villages in the south-Indian state of Karnataka in the next two years.


Netafim CEO Gaby Miodownik (photo credit: DROR SITHAKOL​)
Netafim CEO Gaby Miodownik (photo credit: DROR SITHAKOL​)

Netafim will offer 35,000 Indian farmers in the southern-Indian state of Karnataka better irrigation systems through a new project worth $85 million. The project is slated to be completed sometime in 2022.

In cooperation with Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL), Netafim will create three “irrigation communities” and teach local farmers how to operate them. It is this element of cooperation that could enable the large-scale work, as these individual farmers would not be able to afford such technology on their own.

The digital irrigation system is NetBeat, which offers cloud information storage and water crops using mobile phones. The phones provide the farmer with real-time data about the state of the crop and the moisture in the soil, while the phone allows him to decide how to respond.

“NetBeat is a system with a brain,” Netafim CEO Gaby Miodownik told The Jerusalem Post. “It collects data and compares it to what the ideal crop should look like and recommends a course of action to the farmer.

”The farmer can decide if he wants to follow the suggestions or not.  The Indian farmers will also get five years of support from Netafim, which will send agriculture experts to teach farmers not just how to grow more crops, but which crops are more worthwhile to sell.

“This is a dramatic increase in their quality of lives, they often end up with up to five times the annual income they used to make,” he said.

With a history of working in the subcontinent, Netafim has a YouTube channel with information about banana trees, mango crops and growing cotton in several Indian languages.

Israel and India have enjoyed a close commercial relationship following the 2017 visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel. Most recently, Israel sent a delegation to the country to collaborate on COVID-19 technology innovation.

“Netafim grew its operations in India after that [2017] visit,” Miodownik told the Post.He said that Modi came to visit the company when it opened a factory in Gujarat, when he was governor 15 years ago.

“We are active in more than 100 countries around the world,” he said. But “in India, the government is willing to invest in advanced agriculture technology.”