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Listen: dairy and beef focus as Vietnamese deputy Prime Minister visits Ireland
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Listen: dairy and beef focus as Vietnamese deputy Prime Minister visits Ireland

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Government ministers from Vietnam were shown around a Cork dairy farm and Teagasc Moorepark.
Government ministers from Vietnam were shown around a Cork dairy farm and Teagasc Moorepark.

The Vietnamese deputy Prime Minister and the deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development were among the dignitaries in a Vietnamese delegation that visited a Cork dairy farm and Teagasc’s Moorepark research centre on Friday.

Clement and Eileen Twomey showed the Vietnamese Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang van Thang around their farm at Mount Rivers, Fermoy, Co Cork.

The Twomeys supply Dairygold from their 120-cow farm, which slopes down to the banks of the Blackwater. All calves from the farm are reared to beef, either on the Mount Rivers farm or on Clement’s brother John’s farm nearby.

Listen to "Clement Twomey" on Spreaker.

Minister van Thang and other Vietnamese officials were shown the cows grazing, the milking parlour and the calf shed, while Clement explained that his cows grazed grass for up 300 days of year.

He also outlined the AI breeding season and his grassland management practices, including silage.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal through an interpreter, Minister van Thang said he was very impressed by what he had seen of Irish agriculture on his first visit to this country.

Listen to "Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang van Thang" on Spreaker.

Prior to the farm visit, both Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Minister of State in the Department, Andrew Doyle held discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Trinh Dinh Dung.

The meeting followed on from an Irish agri-food trade mission to Vietnam last September, and focused on collaboration between both countries in the area of trade, agriculture and food.

Minister Creed said the visit tied in with his Brexit strategy to open more markets for Irish produce, which is “so exposed to the UK market”.

Minister Creed said that Ireland has already access to the Vietnamese market in dairy products, particularly in infant formula through Kerry, and he wanted to see Irish beef follow on.

“Beef would be a significant one to crack,” Minister Creed told the Irish Farmers Journal. “We would like to see a delegation come from Vietnam for plant inspections before the end of the year. We’re hopeful that can happen.”

Minister Creed added that Vietnam had an emerging middle class with western dietary habits.

“While there is existing trade in Irish dairy, pigmeat and seafood we know that the potential is there for this to significantly grow. With a young, open and well-educated population of 90 million, and a growing middle class, this is a market with enormous potential for our exporters.”

Moorepark visit

The Teagasc visit was hosted by director Professor Gerry Boyle, who showcased research work and Moorepark’s scope for engaging bilaterally with similar institutions in Vietnam. A Teagasc team had visited Vietnam last September for discussions on deeper collaboration, and further joint projects are planned.

Concluding the visit, Minister Creed said: “I was delighted last September to lead the first ever ministerial Irish food and drink trade mission to Vietnam. We certainly achieved our main objective of raising the profile of Ireland as a source for safe, secure and sustainably-produced food.

“I was delighted to follow up on that mission with further discussions today and specifically to advance the case for Irish beef access, which we had discussed last September.”

He continued: “The Deputy Prime Minister and I discussed potential mutual benefit in an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which is advancing at EU level. This was the second high-profile visit to Ireland this week by a major Asian country, following the visit by China and allowed us the opportunity the showcase the best of what the Irish agri-food sector has to offer.”

Vietnam: what is the potential for Irish agri-food exports?

  • • Ireland`s food exports to Vietnam have grown six-fold in six years and were worth almost €54m in 2016. While dairy products were the most valuable, pigmeat beverages, seafood also contributed.
  • • The population of Vietnam is set to rise to 100 million people by 2024; this is equivalent to around one fifth of the current EU-28 population. The rate of urbanisation will reach 40% by 2024.
  • • Vietnam is the sixth largest pork producer in the world. Pork accounts for 65% of national meat consumption or around 4m tonnes.
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