When Nepal decided to establish its diplomatic relations with Israel fifty-six years ago, it was taken by Nepal’s near and dear friends as very unusual and unnecessary.
After walking together, holding similar views on many international issues, Nepal and Israel, two countries having contrasting geographical characters, one with the highest point and the other with the lowest point in the world, have proved that their friendship has a definite meaning.
In the last 56 years, Nepal has benefited much from Israel in agriculture development, particularly the small farmer's development, through the Israeli model of cooperatives, technical knowhow and commercialization of agriculture. Nepal also acquired knowledge of modern construction through the establishment of National Construction Company Nepal with Israel in early 1970s.
Brought from Israel, the drip irrigation technology makes vegetable farming viable in many hill areas of Nepal. Similarly, Nepal’s small farmers also benefited from Israeli knowledge.
At a time when Nepal and Israel are celebrating their 56 years of establishment of bilateral relationship, the 2-day visit of Israeli Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir is very significant.
“Visit of Israeli Minister Yair Shamir is very important and historic. The visit will help open a new chapter in the bilateral relations,” said foreign minister Mahendra Pandey.
Minister Shamir expressed satisfaction over his successful Nepal visit. “It has been a very fruitful visit and I’ve met many inspiring people,” said the minister.
During his two days in Nepal, Minister Shamir met his Nepali counterpart, Hari Prasad Parajuli, Minister for Agricultural Development, and discussed the possible cooperation between the two countries in the field of agriculture.
“We are looking into the possibility of establishing agricultural demonstration farms in Nepal, so that we could share Israeli agro-technology more easily,” said minister Shamir.
“There are currently more than 500 Nepali small farmers in Israel, who are enjoying the opportunity to learn about Israeli agro-technology as well as implement the knowledge in the field, while earning money in the process, money that upon returning to Nepal could help the farmers to invest in new technologies for their farms,” said a press release issued by Embassy of Israel.
Members of Small Farmers Agriculture Cooperative from all over Nepal are taking the 11-month advanced course in agriculture in Israel. The program allows the Nepali farmers a chance to study by doing how Israel has made the desert bloom.
The minister also met President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. Minister Shamir, in addition to meeting Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Nepali Foreign Minister, met Sunil Bahadur Thapa, Minister for Commerce and Supplies.
During the meetings, discussions were held on further strengthening the already existing friendly relations between the two nations and the possible economic cooperation that may arise in the future in the field of agriculture.
The minister was accompanied by the head of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), Gil Haskel.
“Whatever technology Israel has developed - we are ready to share with Nepal,” said Haskel. Over 3,000 Nepali professionals have already undergone advanced training in MASHAV centers in Israel in different fields, and dozens are receiving scholarships from the Israeli government every year.
Minister Shamir also jointly inaugurated a business seminar in the field of agriculture and agro technologies with the participation of company representatives and businessmen from both countries alongside the official delegation of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala asked a visiting Israeli minister to convey his call to Israeli businesspersons for increased investment in Nepal. Receiving Israeli Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Yair Shamir at his residence in Baluwatar, the Prime Minister said Nepal would head toward financial prosperity after promulgation of a democratic constitution.
At the meeting, Koirala appreciated Israel for employment and training opportunities it provided to Nepali migrant workers.
Israeli ambassador to Nepal, Yaron Mayer said that Israel attached high priority to Nepal and wanted to assist her in developmental efforts.
"This year is the anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations and we want to make it memorable,” he said, shedding light on the importance of bilateral bonds and significance of Minister Shamir’s visit.
The visit of Minister Shamir marks the beginning of the programs to celebrate 55 years of diplomatic relations between Nepal and Israel. This is a good beginning.